​Ms Nazartul Shahnaz, who is two months pregnant, said the webinar she attended with her husband in January gave them tips on how to manage their finances. PHOTO: MUIS

SINGAPORE - A programme that aims to strengthen Muslim marriages has been expanded to provide more support for couples starting a family.

Under the two-year pilot, Muslim newlyweds will receive guidance on pregnancy, parenting and marriage from their "naib kadi", or wedding solemniser, as well as healthcare professionals from KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH).

The pilot, dubbed Achieving Resilient and Inspiring Families (Arif), has been supporting 84 couples since it started in September last year.

It was set up in collaboration with Temasek Foundation, KKH and the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis).

The pilot is an expansion of the Bersamamu (Malay for "With You") programme launched in 2019, where a naib kadi stays in touch with a couple over the first two years of marriage to offer them marital advice.

The naib kadi may also refer couples to programmes and services aimed at enhancing their marital relationship, or when they need professional help.

To bolster their mentoring abilities, KKH and Muis have been conducting training sessions for naib kadis on topics such as maternal mental health, parenting and couple engagement strategies.

By mid-2022, expectant mothers will be able to get personalised health advice from KKH doctors, nurses and medical social workers at two resource centres at mosques Masjid Assyafaah and Masjid An-Nur.

Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim said on Sunday (March 21): "I am confident that Project Arif will be able to provide comprehensive assistance to newlyweds, which will lead to better outcomes in their maternal wellness and children's development.

"They will be provided with valuable resources and information that can increase their confidence in parenting and nurturing stronger and healthier children," he added.

To prepare for married life, couples can also participate in webinars organised by KKH on topics ranging from marital responsibilities, financial planning, intimacy and parenting skills.

The first webinar on marriage and housing in January garnered more than 200 participants. The next session on marital intimacy and fertility will be held next Saturday.

Ms Nazartul Shahnaz, who is two months pregnant, said the webinar she attended with her husband in January gave them tips on how to manage their finances.

"Raising a child is not cheap, so we need to plan our finances to prepare for our baby's arrival. We also learnt about pre- and post-natal concerns from doctors which will be helpful as the pregnancy progresses," said the 28-year-old cord blood donor coordinator.

Dr Suzanna Sulaiman, head and senior consultant of KKH's department of obstetrics and gynaecology, said: "New marriages are like newborn babies. You need to give them support, provide them with love, nourishment and patience."

"We hope to witness the promising outcome of Project Arif within the next decade," she added.

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.