SINGAPORE – When Ms Maybeline Sim gave birth to her second child, Jared Aw Yong, in November 2023, her older son stayed over in the hospital too.

She booked Thomson Medical’s family suite, so Josiah and her husband, Mr James Aw Yong, could bunk in the room’s house-shaped double-decker bed.

It was a more comfortable sleep for Mr Aw Yong, a senior brand manager in his 30s, compared with the sofa bed he curled up in when she delivered Josiah at the same hospital in 2021.

The room has a child-size table and chairs, which her 2½-year-old enjoyed using, as well as a kitchenette that was useful for making his milk feeds.

“I wanted Josiah to stay with us and not feel left out because a little sibling is coming,” says Ms Sim, a marketing manager and content creator in her 30s of the two-night stay.

The family suite set her back $1,607.04 a day, more than double the rate of an entry-level one-bed room there, which costs $695.42 a day. Prices are for a normal delivery and include GST. 

Thomson Medical introduced its two family suites in 2023 as an inclusive experience for families with older children, says a spokesperson. They are often booked way in advance, and have an average of five bookings a month.

Ms Maybeline Sim and her husband, Mr James Aw Yong, enjoyed a sumptuous 
celebratory dinner as part of her maternity package at Thomson Medical in 

The new rooms are part of the hospital’s 45th anniversary celebrations, which include new facilities such as a 24-hour outpatient clinic, two upcoming dining outlets and a facelift of its Level 1. It is also giving out Year of the Dragon collectibles, such as a limited-edition baby pillow in collaboration with home-grown babywear brand Baa Baa Sheepz.

Thomson Medical, which has 33 single-bed maternity rooms and 21 two-bedder rooms, is among a slew of hospitals that have spruced up their maternity ward offerings post-Covid-19, introducing hotel-worthy decor, post-delivery push perks, and new services.

Hospitals here are responding to the increasing demand for single-bedded rooms as parents become more discerning.

At Mount Elizabeth Hospital (MEH), the old dark brown palette has given way to natural, earthy tones and warm lighting in its new maternity ward, which opened in December 2023.

The 16 single-bed maternity rooms there, including two isolation rooms, give parents a more comfortable and private environment to rest and recuperate in, says a hospital spokesperson. This is part of a major renovation project, which began in January 2023.

Ms Ye Yufeng, 34, who gave birth to her first child, Ainsley Lee, there in late February 2024, says: “It doesn’t feel like I’m staying in a hospital.”

Maternity patients can choose to have a celebratory dinner for two or cocktail reception for six as part of their maternity package, which starts from $6,309 with GST for a normal delivery.

Mr Tommy Lee and Ms Ye Yufeng with their newborn at Mount Elizabeth Hospital’s 
new maternity ward, which has earthy tones and warm lighting. ST PHOTO: HENG YI-HSIN

Ms Ye, who works in business development, and her husband, 34-year-old registered nurse Tommy Lee, opted for the complimentary dinner, which included “pretty good” Greek salad with quinoa and baked eggplant with moussaka.

She passed on a free 30-minute post-natal massage therapy treatment – mums can choose among a head and shoulder massage, lactation massage or shoulder massage – as she felt weak after suffering blood loss during her delivery.

The family returned home via the hospital’s complimentary limousine service and redeemed a complimentary imprint of mother and child’s hands and feet done in paint at the hospital.

MEH’s parent company, IHH Healthcare Singapore, rolled out a new traditional Chinese medicine (TCM)-infused confinement menu across four hospitals in December 2023. This is in anticipation of the higher birth rate this Dragon Year, says Ms Hui Hwa Koh-Minjoot, IHH’s vice-president and head of allied health and patient experience.

It also runs Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, Gleneagles Hospital and Parkway East Hospital.

Mr Catan Tan, IHH’s head of food and beverage, says it serves 40 to 50 such TCM dishes a day, which are ordered a la carte and include American ginseng with fish slices soup and millet pumpkin porridge. Patients do not pay extra as the dishes are part of the maternity package at its hospitals.

First-time mum Geraldine Lim, 32, who gave birth at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital in February, gives a thumbs up to the duck porridge from the TCM menu.

Duck porridge is among 12 dishes in a new traditional Chinese medicine-infused 
confinement menu launched across four IHH Healthcare Singapore hospitals. 

“It’s comfort food,” says the pre-school teacher who was upgraded to the Chairman Suite as her son, Jace Tan, happened to be the maternity ward’s 20,000th delivery since it opened in 2014.

Her husband, 35-year-old civil servant Jonathan Tan, who tried the laksa with lobster from the main menu, says: “They really put in effort and the food is as good as hotel food.”

Mount Alvernia Hospital has also revamped its maternity offerings in a big way.

In October 2023, it opened the 10-storey St Anne Mother & Child Centre (SAMCC) within its campus, which features 68 maternity beds, including two double-bedded rooms, as well as two paediatric wards. Its previous maternity ward was housed within the hospital and had 54 maternity beds.

There is a nursery on each of its three maternity floors at the new centre, and it has increased the number of delivery suites and doubled its neonatal intensive care unit bassinets. Its maternity package rate for a standard single room costs $4,122.38 with GST for a normal delivery with no epidural.

Mount Alvernia’s chief executive James Lam says: “SAMCC is aimed at serving the growing demand for single rooms by the new generation of mothers who prefer to start their parenthood journey in a more private and comfortable space.”

A standard single room in Mount Alvernia Hospital’s St Anne Mother and Child Centre. 

Single-bedder, please

Even public hospitals have upped their maternity offerings since the pandemic to meet rising parental expectations.

Associate Professor Mahesh Choolani from the National University Hospital (NUH) says: “In the last five years, we have observed a trend in which the majority of expectant parents prefer to be admitted as private patients, primarily to have the option to choose their preferred doctor.”

He adds, however, that “all expectant parents, whether private or subsidised, receive the same high standard of care”. Prof Choolani is co-director of the National University Centre for Women and Children, and head and senior consultant in NUH’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Over the past few years, NUH has renovated and increased its capacity in its maternity wards, neonatal high dependency ward and neonatal intensive care unit, he says.

It now has two deluxe suites which come with an anteroom, 24 single-bed A class ward rooms, and 35 rooms offering four-, six- and eight-bed options. The single rooms are the most popular option.

National University Hospital’s most popular maternity bed option is its 24 single-bed 

An estimated bill for a private, single-bed two-day stay and an uncomplicated vaginal delivery is around $6,000 to $7,000. The deluxe suites cost about $300 to $400 more a day.

Mums-to-be can also look forward to using its water birth facility when it reopens later in 2024, says Prof Choolani. This was launched in 2010 and suspended in 2020 when Covid-19 hit.

The facility has a built-in birthing tub located within a dedicated birthing suite, and costs vary depending on the duration of delivery.

Pampering mums and dads

In 2023, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) launched a Small Baby Clinic under its One-Stop Obstetric High Risk Centre, known as Stork Centre. It helps pregnant mums whose babies are not growing as well as they should be and who need to see a team of medical experts every week or so.

Up to 30 pregnant mothers benefit from the new centre every month, says Professor Tan Hak Koon, chairman of the hospital’s division of obstetrics and gynaecology.

KKH has seen a growing demand for single-bed rooms, especially at high-volume periods, typically from September to November, Prof Tan says. It uses data analytics to optimise bed management and has been dual-purposing more of its single-bedders since 2021. Dual-purposing refers to using gynaecology wards for pregnant patients.

“By April 2024, the number of these rooms is expected to increase by 40 per cent compared with 2021,” he says.

Dr Anju Bhatia from the Department of Maternal Fetal Medicine at KK Women’s and 
Children’s Hospital performing an ultrasound scan. PHOTO: KK WOMEN'S AND CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL

About a third of its 830 beds are set aside for patients with obstetrics and gynaecology needs. It currently has 33 single maternity beds. According to the Ministry of Health’s website, a typical bill for a normal delivery in an unsubsidised A ward at KKH was $5,469 in 2021.

“With our facilities and resources, we are well-prepared to manage any expected increase in deliveries in the Dragon Year,” Prof Tan says.

KKH, which celebrates its 100th year as a dedicated maternity hospital in 2024, will soon launch a one-stop Women’s Hub. The facility will consolidate disciplines including urogynaecology, preconception health, reproductive medicine, in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), minimally-invasive surgery and high-risk pregnancies.

The hub will also have an IVF speciality laboratory, a diagnostic and interventional imaging facility and a pharmacy.

Likewise, Singapore General Hospital (SGH) unveiled a refurbished maternity ward in July 2023. It relocated its neonatal ward to the same area to help mothers bond better with their babies and reduce mental stress, says Dr Lim Shau Khng, a senior consultant at SGH’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

An A1 ward room at Singapore General Hospital, which opened its refurbished 
maternity ward in July 2023. PHOTO: SINGAPORE GENERAL HOSPITAL

SGH has 34 maternity beds, including eight single-bed rooms. All bed lights now come with adjustable controls for brightness and hue for a more comfortable experience.

Parents can expect to pay an estimated rate of $3,100 to $5,300 for a normal delivery, depending on the ward type. Prices are before Medisave claims.

SGH also offers a new screening panel for pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure in pregnancy) and genetic counselling services for pregnant mothers. Mums who have delivered are now reviewed by physiotherapists and those who need more care can follow up at its postnatal assessment clinic after they are discharged.

It is also exploring a service in which new mums can return to the ward after being discharged to get their newborn’s jaundice checked.

New dad Naviyn Ramen Kutty, 35, who works in supply chain manufacturing, appreciates that fathers’ roles were taken into consideration in SGH’s maternity makeover.

His wife, Ms G. Niroshna Pillay, 32, who works in shipping, delivered their daughter in late February.

New dad Naviyn Ramen Kutty and his wife, Ms G. Niroshna Pillay, who delivered 
their daughter in late February. PHOTO: COURTESY OF NAVIYN RAMEN KUTTY

Before the refurbishment, fathers could request a roll-out bed with a thin mattress, but they can now use a more comfortable sofa bed in single-bed rooms.

“I visited someone in hospital who had a roll-out bed, and it was hard. This one is quite comfortable. It’s sufficient for me to rest because, every now and then, I have to get up and feed the baby,” says Mr Naviyn.

Dr Lim says: “By providing welcoming spaces for fathers to stay alongside mothers, we aim to foster a stronger sense of family unity and support during this transformative period.”

Correction note: In an earlier version of the story, we said that Ms G. Niroshna Pillay delivered a son. This is incorrect. She gave birth to a daughter. We are sorry for the error.