2016 was an eventful year for our family. We welcomed CBB in May and got the keys to our BTO near the end of the year. Our home renovation is now complete and we’re going to move in soon. Our first home has turned out exactly the way we envisioned, and CBB already loves the brightness, space and mirrors on the walls!
With everything that has happened, our bank account was no doubt affected. Delivery charges, infant care fees, doctor’s fees (a visit to the pediatrician isn’t cheap!), renovation loan, furnishing expenses… they all add up. But at least, the MANY subsidies and benefits available – like the claimable Medisave amounts, Medisave grant for newborns, baby bonus, infant subsidies and maternity & paternity leave – have definitely helped us in this journey!
Here’s a list of benefits – under the Marriage and Parenthood Package – that we enjoyed (and are still enjoying now):
Medisave Maternity Package
We could use $900 of our Medisave to pay for pre-delivery expenses such as pre-natal consultations, ultrasound scans, tests and medications incurred at both public and private healthcare institutions. This amount was doubled in March 2016 from the $450 previously, so we count ourselves very lucky!
The amount of Medisave you can use for delivery expenses depends on the type of delivery procedure you go through (natural or caesarean). I underwent a caesarean, so I was able to use $2150 from my Medisave, on top of $450 a day for each day of hospital stay (I could use $450 x 4 for my 4D3N stay). My Medisave (about $1300+) was also used for part of baby’s bill.
CBB received $4000 into her own Medisave account automatically upon birth registration. The money has helped us pay for her MediShield Life premiums and certain polyclinic vaccinations so far.
Without this package, we would have to fork out cash to pay for all our maternity and delivery expenses. So we’re very thankful! Go to the MOH website to know more about the Medisave Maternity Package.
The Baby Bonus is made up of two components: 1) a cash gift and 2) a Child Development Account (CDA), which is a special co-savings scheme for children.
1) Cash gift
This table illustrates the cash gift at a glance. CBB is our first born so the total cash amount we will get is $8000.
The money is deposited straight into one of the parents’ bank accounts (you can specify upon enrollment) in instalments: 7-10 days after birth of baby, and at 6, 12, 15 and 18 months. For specific amounts that you will receive at each stage, go to this page.
2) Child Development Account (CDA)
The CDA is a co-savings scheme for children. The government will contribute up to $6k total into this account, which we are using to pay for CBB’s school fees, doctor’s visits and approved healthcare items at pharmacies. More information on the CDA can be found here (click on the ‘Enhanced CDA’ tab).
Subsidies For Centre-Based Infant Care
We decided that sending CBB to infant care is the best choice in our situation. I remember worrying about having a slot even before I delivered. There is no more waiting list available for public schools – what would happen if I wasn’t able to get a place for her before my maternity leave was up?
Luckily, we got a spot at a newly-opened privately-owned infant care centre located near our current and new homes. As a working mother, I receive a $600 subsidy towards her school fees every month. It is a lot! This benefit has helped us incredibly month-to-month… I can use the savings to buy diapers, milk powder, and all other necessities for CBB.
Maternity and Enhanced Paternity Leave
I thought I should also mention the maternity and paternity leave entitlement. I took 16 weeks of maternity leave at one go and Jason took 2 weeks of paternity leave. The time away from work gave us the opportunity to learn and take care of our newborn, and I dare say helped Jason become a hands-on dad.
What did he do during paternity leave? He got up at night to feed baby while I pumped. He bathed her and changed her diaper, and washed bottles and pump parts… and now everything I can do, he can too! Err another plus point: when I got sick of confinement food, he went out and secretly bought me yummy food. Bubble tea FTW!
With the husband around, I felt I could focus more on resting and breastfeeding. Breastfeeding wasn’t an easy journey for me but the emotional support I got from my spouse made it better. I appreciated that he would make me hot milo and prepare snacks for me, and even ensured I had enough entertainment while latching/pumping, because he knew I was stressed enough. Him being around 24/7 during my confinement really made a difference to my mental well-being!
And I’ve noticed that many younger Singaporean men are more engaged in parenting now, as compared to our dads’ generation. Parenting is and should be a shared role, and the introduction of enhanced paternity leave is a great step towards encouraging fathers to be more involved in parenting right from the start!
10 months on, and the husband is still as engaged as ever. He can now prepare simple meals for our baby, and even takes care of feeding her when I’m busy or away. Whenever CBB makes a mess at meal times, he’s always the first person to clean up after her!
More about paternity leave:
Read the article: http://www.smartparents.sg/parenting/dads-welcome-extended-paternity-leave-7295420
View the infographics: http://www.smartparents.sg/parenting/dads-to-get-more-paternity-leave-benefits-7315666
Watch the video: http://www.smartparents.sg/parenting/paternity-leave-what-do-daddies-do-8440082
It has been close to a year since CBB was born… so fast! As a new parent, I think the most important lesson I have learnt in the past year is: Adapt to the situation. What works for others may not work for you, and holding on to ideals (like “I’m only going to feed my child freshly-prepared food!” or “NO TV FOREVER!” Hahaha) would only make you more tired, upset or disappointed when you can’t realise them. Oh, and one more thing: Pick them up and hold them close. They won’t be little forever.
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