Pregnancy

I didn’t plan for this pregnancy. What should I do?

Every woman’s situation is different. Whether you are excited, unsure or even upset about your pregnancy, it is important to be clear-minded before you move forward with any decision. Here are some first steps to consider:

  1. Confirm your pregnancy with a doctor because a home pregnancy kit can have varying degrees of accuracy. We recommend you visit a General Practitioner (“GP”) or Obstetrician-Gynaecologist (“Gynae”) to confirm your stage of pregnancy.
  1. Understand your options in detail. These include:

  • Parenthood: Giving birth and raising the child as a parent.
  • Adoption: The legal act of entrusting your child to another person/couple to bring the child up as their own.
  • Abortion: A medical procedure to intentionally end your pregnancy, resulting in the death of your child.

How should I tell my parents/family about my pregnancy?

Whatever relationship you have with your parents and family, telling them about an unplanned pregnancy can cause a great deal of anxiety. As you prepare to give them the news, keep these things in mind:

  • Give them time to cope – Their initial reaction may be unpleasant, but they are likely just as shocked as you were about your pregnancy. They may need some time to process the news.
  • If you have a plan, discuss it – Help your parents and family understand what you want to do and why.
  • Seek help if necessary – If you are unsure of how your parents and family will respond to the news, our counsellors are here to help mediate the conversation.

Above all, let your parents and family know how much their support would mean to you as you make plans for the road ahead.

How should I tell the father of the child about the pregnancy?

Take time to prepare what you are going to say. Practice with a trusted friend or counsellor so that you are able to explain your thoughts clearly. Be prepared for the possibility of an initial negative response as he may need time to accept and process the news.

The status and nature of your relationship with him will play a role in how you address your pregnancy with him. Our counsellors are available to guide you on how to approach the conversation.

If he is supportive of your situation and decision, he can be a valuable partner to you on your journey. The two of you will want to discuss what your decision means for both of you and what the nature of your relationship will be.

If your child’s father is unsupportive, uninvolved, or unknown, our counsellors can guide you in deciding what you need to do next.

What pregnancy symptoms should I expect?

You will notice many changes to your body, especially during the first three months of pregnancy as your body is working hard to create a safe and stable environment for your baby. Symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Smell sensitivity
  • Morning sickness (nausea)
  • Food aversions
  • Mood swings
  • Tender, swollen breasts
  • Darker, bumpy areola
  • Frequent urination
  • Bloating
  • Raised temperature
  • Light spotting

Websites like Baby Centre or What To Expect can provide more information about pregnancy and help you to track your baby’s development.

I’m told that my unborn baby may have medical conditions or possible “birth defects” and that I should abort. What should I do?

You may feel unprepared and overwhelmed, or even guilty that you somehow “caused” the condition. At the same time, you may have many questions for which there may be no clear answers.

Consider getting a second or third medical opinion. Read up on the suspected medical condition before making a decision about what you would do. Involve your family or partner if possible. Our counsellors are here to guide you to explore ways to plan for the way ahead, including finances and parenting support.

Will I have postnatal depression?

Postnatal depression is common among new mothers, and you may experience it after giving birth. Contact KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital at pnd@kkh.com.sg or +65 6294 4050 to seek help.

More information can be found here.

Parenting

What do I need to consider if I choose parenting?

Parenting a child is a lifelong commitment. Here are some things to think about:

  • Finances – You will need to support your child financially till he or she is able to earn their own keep. Read ‘How much does it cost to raise a baby in the first year?
  • Support System – You should have a community who can support you through your pregnancy and after birth. This could be your family or friends that you can trust and rely on.
  • Personal Emotions – It is okay to have mixed feelings about being a parent. Parenthood opens up new perspectives into your life. Your lifestyle and priorities will change, but you may discover new purposes and motivations that bring great fulfilment. Find someone who can journey with you as you make the transition. More help and tips are available at heybaby.sg.

How do I get support from my family and friends to raise my child?

Having the support of family and friends is crucial as you choose to raise your child. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Even if your community was unsupportive at the beginning of your pregnancy, their reactions may be more positive once the baby arrives.

I’m single and pregnant. Do I need to get married if I choose to keep my baby?

The status and nature of your relationship with the father of the child will affect your decision. Whether you are a single or married parent, hard work and changes to your lifestyle will be required.

The roles and responsibilities of a parent and spouse are different. As a parent, your primary responsibility is towards your child. As a spouse, your primary responsibility is towards your partner. You should consider your roles as a parent and spouse carefully.

There are also relational, legal, family, financial and emotional implications. Take time to weigh your options and think about the impact of the decision on yourself, your child and the father of the child.

Adoption & Fostering

What is adoption?

Adoption is the legal act of entrusting your child to another person/couple who will bring him or her up as their own.

Who can be adopted?

The child must be below 21 years old and a resident of Singapore (i.e. a Singapore Citizen, Singapore Permanent Resident or Dependant’s Pass holder). Consent of paternal and maternal grandparents of the child is required if biological parents of infant are below the age of 21.

More details can be found on MSF and Family Justice Courts websites.

What do I need to do if I want to place my child for adoption?

An adoption agency will be best positioned to give the advice you require. Here are some agencies you can contact.

Apkim Centre For Social Services (ACOSS)
Tel: 6295 1011 | Email: info@apkim.com | Website: www.apkim.sg

Fei Yue Community Services
Tel: 6771 9552 / 6771 9520 | Email: adoption@fycs.org | Website: www.fycs.org

Lutheran Community Care Services
Tel: 6441 3906 | Email: adoption@lccs.org.sg | Website: www.lccs.org.sg

Stepping Stones
Tel: 8826 0440 / 6441 3906 | Email: admin@steppingstones.com.sg

Touch Community Services Limited
Tel: 6709 8406 | Email: adoption@touch.org.sg | Website: www.touch.org.sg

Who will cover the expenses of the adoption process?

Generally, the adoptive parents will cover the legal expenses of the adoption process and medical expenses related to the birth of the child. It is against the law for biological parents to receive payment in return for placing their child for adoption without the court’s approval.

How does this affect my child?

All legal ties between your child and you will be broken off. The adoptive parent(s) will have all the rights and responsibilities in nurturing and providing for the child.

Will my child be safe?

Singapore has a strict set of criteria regarding adoption. You can find out more on how to be an adoptive parent here.

Can I change my mind about placing my child for adoption after I give birth?

If the final legal document has not been signed, you may still change your mind about placing your child for adoption. However once the final court order is submitted, you will not be able to change your decision.

Will my child hate me for placing him/her up for adoption?

It is normal to worry about whether your child will hate you for placing him/her for adoption. Every child and adoptive family is different, and how your child will respond will depend largely on how the adoptive family raises him/her. There are many stories of adopted children having positive feelings of gratitude towards their birth parents.

Can I send my child to foster care?

You cannot choose to send your child to foster care. Children who require foster care may have been hurt by abuse or neglect, or are unable to be cared for by their parents who may be ill, incarcerated or have passed away. These children will be placed in a foster home where a foster parent will care and provide for them.

More information on foster care can be found here.

Abortion

What is abortion?

Abortion is a medical procedure to intentionally end your pregnancy, resulting in the death of your child.

How will abortion affect me?

The risks of abortion include:

  • Injury to the womb and uterus
  • Complications from anaesthesia
  • Difficulties with conceiving or carrying a baby to full-term in future
  • Psychological and emotional reactions such as anger, depression, guilt, low self-esteem, suicidal tendencies
  • Difficulties in future relationships

Who can have an abortion in Singapore?

To be eligible for an abortion, the pregnant woman must be a Singapore citizen, or have resided in Singapore for at least four months. She must be less than 24 weeks pregnant. Parental consent is not required at any age.

What is the procedure before I can have an abortion?

You will be required to undergo pre-abortion counselling by a qualified pre-abortion counsellor at the hospital or clinic you consult. If you are under 16 years old, you will have to undergo mandatory counselling at the Health Promotion Board.

Regardless of your age, there is a compulsory waiting period of 48 hours after the counselling before the procedure can be done.

How much does an abortion cost?

The cost ranges from $300 to $3500. It will vary according to the type of operating theatre used, the depth of anaesthesia applied, other inclusions and the clinic or hospital you choose.

A first trimester abortion usually includes the surgical procedural fee, sedation and day surgery facility fees.

Mid-trimester abortion (14-24 weeks) will cost more as it involves a longer and more complicated process in hospital.

Who can I talk to if I’ve had an abortion before?

Rachel’s Vineyard
Email: info@rachelsvineyard.sg | Website: www.rachelsvineyard.sg

Buttons Project Singapore
Email: june@buttonsproject.org.sg | Website: www.buttonsproject.org.sg

Finances, Employment & Childcare

How much does each doctor visit cost and what other expenses should I expect?

A visit to a gynaecologist would cost between S$80 in a public hospital to S$200 at a private clinic. In addition, you are likely to have two to four ultrasounds during your pregnancy, which would cost between S$100 to S$200 each. This cost excludes any optional testing that your gynaecologist may advise you to have.

How much does it cost to raise a baby in the first year?

The estimated cost according to dollarsandsense.sg is $13,000 per year. The breakdown of baby essentials in the first year is shown below. All costs are dependent on the choice of products and services selected.

  • Consumables (e.g. Milk powder, diapers) – $2,600
  • Non-consumables (e.g. Stroller, Milk bottles) – $1,800
  • Medical fees at polyclinics – Nominal
  • Infant care service after subsidy – $8,400

You may apply for the Baby Safe scheme at Safe Place which provides baby essentials for the first year at no cost.

Where can I find help to get a job?

Juggling between work and caring for your child may be tough, but with the right information and a persevering mindset, things can and will get better.

CDAC Workfare Programme offers subsidised training, job matching services and career guidance here.

Other organisations like Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) and YEA! SG also provide help with resume writing, skills upgrading, job matching, and career guidance.

There are also many online job portals that promote flexi work such as Career Mums SG, Mums @ Work SG and Single Parent support groups.

What is Baby Bonus and Child Development Account (CDA)? Am I eligible if I am a single mother?

The Baby Bonus Scheme gives out cash grants to married couples upon the arrival of their baby when they open a Child Development Account (CDA). The scheme includes a cash gift, CDA First Step grant, and Government matching to savings in the child’s CDA.

Single mothers are eligible to open a CDA for their baby and enjoy the CDA First Step grant and Government matching, but they will not receive the cash gift.

The CDA account can be used to pay for educational and healthcare expenses at all Baby Bonus Approved Institutions.

More information on Baby bonus is available here.

What are the government subsidies for infant care, childcare and pre-school?

Infant and Childcare subsidies – Basic Subsidy is available to all Singaporean children enrolled in an ECDA-licensed childcare centre. Additional subsidy is available to mothers working at least 56 hours each month and whose gross family household income does not exceed $7,500. Larger families with more than 2 dependents who are not earning income may choose to apply using Per Capita Income if it does not exceed $1,875.

Kindergarten Financial Assistance Scheme (KiFAS) is a subsidy scheme which provides parents up to $170 monthly to offset the cost of their child’s kindergarten education. Similar to most subsidies, families from lower income tiers will receive higher subsidy amounts.

More information on government subsidies is available here.

Will my child be taken from me if I seek financial help from the government as a single mother?

No, the government offers assistance to single mothers and their children. The government will only intervene when there is a proven case of serious abuse or neglect, or if the parent of the child is terminally ill, incarcerated, or have passed away. In these scenarios, the child may be placed in foster care.

What employment benefits do I have?

Maternity Leave

Whether you are single or married, you are eligible for 16 weeks of paid maternity leave if you meet the following requirements:

  • Your child is a Singapore citizen
  • For employees: You have served your employer for a continuous period of at least 3 months immediately before the birth of your child.
  • For self-employed: You have been engaged in your work for at least 3 continuous months and have loss of income during the maternity leave period.
  • You have given your employer at least 1 week’s notice before going on maternity leave, and informed them as soon as possible of your delivery

More information on maternity leave is available here.

Unpaid Infant Care Leave

The Unpaid Infant Care Leave is an entitlement to all working parents with a child below the age of 2. Parents are entitled to 6 days of unpaid leave each year.

To be eligible:

  • Your child is a Singapore citizen
  • Your child has to be below 2 years old
  • You must have served your current employer for at least 3 months

More information on infant care leave is available here.

Government-Paid Childcare Leave

The Government-Paid Childcare Leave (GPCL) is an entitlement given to all working parents with a child below the age of 7. Parents are entitled to 6 days of paid leave or less each year.

To be eligible:

  • Your child is a Singapore citizen
  • Your child has to be below 7 years old or between 7 to 12 years old for extended childcare leave
  • You must have served your current employer for at least 3 months

More information on childcare leave is available here.

How do I find help to look after my baby if I have to work?

Once your child turns 2 months old, you can send him/her to an infant care centre. Other options include engaging a nanny or hiring a foreign domestic helper.

More information on Infant Care Centres, grants and subsidies available here.

Legal & Housing

Can I take legal action against my husband or boyfriend for not taking responsibility for our baby?

It is important that both parents consider the best interests of the child. While it is not possible to press criminal charges against your boyfriend for refusing to acknowledge your child, you may wish to obtain legal assistance to negotiate or attempt mediation with him. This is to ensure that he is aware of his financial and moral obligations with regard to your child. Singapore case law also recognises that the unmarried father of a child has parental authority over, and responsibility for the child.

If this fails and he refuses to accept responsibility, you may wish to consider getting the Court’s assistance in ensuring that your child is adequately supported. This can include claiming maintenance for your child by obtaining a maintenance order. This would mean that your boyfriend, as the biological father, is legally obligated to provide financial support to your child until your child is 21 years old.

More information is available here.

My boyfriend has denied that the baby is his. How can I get a DNA test?

A DNA test uses DNA samples collected from the man and the child, which are then analysed in a lab to look for genetic matches. Traditionally, DNA testing can only be done when a baby is born. Newer tests, however, claim to be able to produce accurate results from nine weeks of pregnancy onwards, using blood samples from mother and father.

You will have to go to the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) if you want it performed by a public medical organisation. A paternity test by HSA costs $925 and takes about two weeks for the results.

There are also three private companies now offering paternity tests, ranging from $500 to $700. DNA samples are typically sent to overseas labs in the United States or the U.K. for analysis. These companies are:

  1. Paternity Testing Corporation Singapore
  2. EasyDNA Singapore
  3. iDNA Genetics
I am a single mum. Do I need to include my child’s father’s name on the child’s birth certificate?

It is not mandatory to have the father of the child’s name stated on the child’s birth certificate (BC).

If the father of the child has been uninvolved or unsupportive in the early years of the child, you may be worried that he may turn up in subsequent years and attempt to “snatch” your child from you.

Even if his name is in your child’s BC, he may not have the right of care and control over the child straightaway. If legal action is taken by either party, the courts will consider how you have cared for your child so far, and any ruling will be in the child’s best interest.

Regardless, whether or not that your child’s father’s name is stated in the BC, the law may still place certain duties or responsibilities (like child maintenance) on him.

To find out more on registering your child’s birth, read here.

Can I seek child maintenance from the father of my child even though we are not married?

Yes, you can. Section 68 of the Women’s Charter (Cap. 353) governs the duty of parents to maintain their children whether they are in his or her custody or the custody of any other person by providing them with accommodation, clothing, food and education.

More information on child maintenance and application can be found here.

What rights does the biological father of my child have if he has been absent ever since my pregnancy?

Under the Guardianship of Infants Act (Cap. 122), both biological parents have equal rights to guardianship, with the welfare of the child as the main consideration. One parent does not have greater rights over the other parent. Apart from welfare factors like which parent is a better carer (in terms of spending time with the child and having the financial capacity), the court also places importance on the stability of your child. If your child has been staying with you all along, and has not been in contact with his biological father for many years, it is likely that custody will be given to you, presuming he has been well taken care of by you. However, maintenance is a duty and your ability to care for the child will be considered too.

Courts generally recognise and promote joint parenting so that both parents can continue to have a direct involvement in the child’s life. If your child’s father wants to be involved in the life of your child, he can apply for joint custody and access rights under the Guardianship of Infants Act.

I heard that my child is considered “illegitimate” if I am unmarried. Is it true that I have to adopt my own child legally?

The term “illegitimate child” may sound harsh and detrimental. It is a legal term applied to children born to parents who are not legally married. It does not mean that the child is any less precious, or that you are not acknowledged as the biological parent.

What it does mean is that upon the death of the child’s biological parents, their assets will not automatically go to him/her. Some single parents circumvent this by legally adopting their biological child so that the child has a legal right to inherit his/her parent’s assets.

Who can I contact to get further legal advice?

In Singapore, the Legal Aid Bureau provides legal aid, assistance and advice to Singapore citizens or permanent residents who pass both the means test and the merits test. A S$1 fee is usually paid when a potential applicant comes to the Legal Aid Bureau to seek initial advice and consultation from the lawyers on their case.

Only those with a disposable income of not more than $10,000 per year may be granted legal aid.

Legal aid is not free and most people will be required to make a contribution towards the costs of work done in the case. This amount is assessed with regard to the applicant’s financial means, the nature of the case, the amount of work done and the amount of money that has been recovered for the applicant.

The Legal Aid Bureau typically handles cases such as divorce, adoption, estate matters and claims for compensation in injury or medical negligence cases.

More information can be found here.

I am single and pregnant. What are my housing options?

Build-To-Order (BTO) Flats

If you are single, 35 years old and above, and your monthly income is less than $6,000, you are eligible to buy a BTO (Build-To-Order) flat. BTO flats are newly-built by the Housing and Development Board (HDB) and are usually cheaper.

Resale flats

You need to be 35 years old and above to purchase a resale flat. The option of buying a resale flat provides the most flexibility in terms of price, location, types and eligibility. Resale flats are usually more expensive than BTOs because of the Cash-Over-Valuation (COV) which is a cash value that you have to pay upfront.

Rental flats

Rental flat is an option if you’re looking for a temporary place to stay or do not have enough money to purchase a flat. You can either rent a flat from a tenant or from HDB under the Public Rental Scheme.

Under the Public Rental Scheme, you need find another single tenant to stay with. Both of you need to be at least 35 years old and your total monthly household gross income must not exceed $1,500.

More information on rental flats is available here.

Shelters

You can consider staying in temporary accommodation like a shelter or respite care.

Safe Place provides temporary accommodation for pregnant women up to four months after the birth of their baby. This is provided at no cost, subject to an interview and assessment process.

Fathers & Family Members

I’m the father of the child and I don’t know what to do about the pregnancy. What should I be considering first?

It does not matter whether this woman is your wife, a long-term girlfriend, a casual partner or even a one-night fling. As the father of her baby, you must take responsibility for your actions. Both of you made the adult decision to have sex with each other, and now you must face the consequences together.

Stay as a team and make decisions together. Understand your options and responsibilities as the father of the child.

Parenting:

  • Are you ready to put aside some of your personal dreams for the best interest of your child?
  • Are you prepared to marry this woman? Or to co-parent this child without getting married?
  • Are you willing to take parenting classes to learn more about raising a child?
  • Are you ready to take on a new job or extra shifts to bear the financial responsibilities of your family?

Abortion:

  • Are you aware of the medical risks to the woman and the emotional risks to each of you?
  • Will you be there to support the woman through her initial appointment and her abortion procedure?

Adoption:

  • Do you understand how adoption works?
  • Are you prepared to legally sign away your parental rights to your child?
  • Are you willing to speak to an adoption counsellor?

She may wish for you to be there during her doctor’s appointments or have you be involved in the adoption process. If she chooses to parent, she may want you to have a presence in your child’s life. Keep in mind, as a biological father, you will likely be legally required to pay child support even if you do not wish to be involved in your child’s life.

How do I support my teenage daughter who is pregnant?

Your support as a parent during this vulnerable time in your child’s life is crucial. While your child needs to face the consequences of her actions, she needs you now more than ever.

  • Ask her about how she feels and what her plans are. Listen and be empathetic. Respond calmly and positively. Take a non-judgemental approach when giving your advice, and do not force her to do anything she is uncomfortable with.
  • Reassure her of your love and support.

About Safe Place

Is Safe Place only for unwed mothers?

We support all pregnant mothers who need help, regardless of marital status.

What is the criteria to receive help from Safe Place?

You should be no more than 32 weeks pregnant, and give consent to receiving help from Safe Place. Parental consent is required for clients who are under 17 years old. Exceptions are made on a case-by-case basis.

I’m not a Singaporean. Can I still get help from Safe Place?

Of course! We are here to journey with you to consider your options and future plans. However, our temporary accommodation is only for Singaporeans and PRs.

Will you reveal the details of my case to anyone (authorities included)?

In general, confidentiality is kept unless there is a possibility of harm done to yourself or others. Professionals and authorities will be notified in these situations.

How much do I have to pay if I need help from Safe Place?

Nothing. All our services are absolutely free.

How is Safe Place funded?

We are fully funded by generous donors and supporters who care about the women, children and families that we support. Our centre is leased from Singapore Land Authority (SLA) at a highly-subsidised rate. We also regularly receive donations-in-kind for our household and daily necessities. We are not funded by the government or Lakeside Family Services.

Who is Lakeside Family Services?

Lakeside Family Services was established in 1993 as one of the early Family Service Centres in Singapore. It has since expanded to provide services to underprivileged children, youths, families and elderly, regardless of race, language or religion.

Does Safe Place give financial assistance?

Safe Place will make referrals to government agencies such as Social Service Offices (SSO), or private agencies who are equipped to provide financial assistance to those in need.

I am a social work/healthcare professional. How do I make a referral to Safe Place?

Please complete the referral form and email to safeplace@lakeside.org.sg.