Hey, Doc

So congrats, you’re pregnant. Now what? I guess it’s time to choose an obstetrician and get the proper care needed. People often refer to an obstetrician as a gynaecologist, but really they are two different types of doctors. Or maybe an obstetrician may be a gynaecologist, but a gynaecologist may not be an obstetrician. Have I confused you so far?

People refer to a gynaecologist by the short form, ‘gynae’. A gynaecologist is a doctor who is specialised in the women health (female reproductive system and breasts).

An obstetrician on the other hand, is a physician who is specialised in the management of pregnancy and labour.


There are a couple of routes one can choose in Singapore:

Subsidised Patient
This route will require you to get a referral letter from the polyclinic. Subsidised patients pay lower rates at government hospitals (e.g. Singapore General Hospital (SGH), Kandang Kerbau Hospital (KKH), National University Hospital (NUH)). The trade off is that you cannot opt for a specific obstetrician. According to a friend who went that route, SGH has a team of doctors that sees subsidised patients. So you may see a different face at each check up.

Private Patient in a Government Hospital
Just call up the hospital of your choice (e.g. SGH, KKH, NUH) and name the obstetrician you would like to see. I chose this route. Some people think that the waiting time at government hospitals is long, so they opt to go to a private hospital. Yes and no. I often request for the earliest appointment slot and it doesn’t take too long (within reasonable limits). Usually I’m in the clinic at about 8.30am and out by 11am on days where I have an ultrasound scan and doctor’s appointment. On days without the scan, I see the doctor at about 9am and it takes only about an hour or so. In terms of service, I think SGH has caught up in providing good service and does not lose out to some private hospitals.

Private Patient in a Private Hospital
I should think this route is the same with government hospitals. There are a couple of private hospitals to choose from: Mount Alvernia Hospital (Mt A), Mount Elizabeth Hospital (Mt E), Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, Parkway East Hospital (formerly known as East Shore Hospital), Gleneagles Hospital and Thomson Medical Centre (TMC). Of course, maternity packages and rates are higher in private hospitals, but some prefer the care at a private hospital.

Private Patient in a Private Clinic
Some would rather go to a private clinic out of convenience (e.g. nearer to home) or they think the wait is much shorter. I’m not too sure on the charges for consultation and ultrasound scans, but definitely, the obstetrician will be linked to a certain hospital and you’ll probably end up giving birth in that hospital (unless you decide to change obstetrician halfway through your pregnancy).


How soon should I make an appointment?
Some people make an appointment as soon as five weeks into their pregnancy. I went for my first check up at eight weeks. An ultrasound scan may not be necessary at five weeks as the baby is still too tiny. The advice I got from all that googling is to make an appointment at around eight weeks. But really, don’t stop yourself from making an early appointment. The obstetrician would probably get you started on folic acid, which helps to strengthen your womb/uterus and minimise the chances of a miscarriage.

Can I change obstetricians halfway through my pregnancy?
Sure you can. People do that for many different reasons. Some may find that they can’t get along with their current doctor or that their current doctor’s fees are too high. Whatever the reason, just settle on another obstetrician whom you are comfortable with. After all, this doctor will be taking care of you until you deliver your baby.

For subsidised patients, you can’t really choose your obstetrician, but I suppose you can change hospitals if you don’t like the current one you’re visiting. Not too sure on that though. Do check with the hospital.

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