Get ready for more insights on pregnancy and giving birth in Singapore with September’s ‘The Bump’ interview!
This month’s ‘The Bump‘ is South African mama Leandi Claassen, who gave birth to her first baby – daughter Emmi – in July. Leandi talks us through the importance of finding the right OBGYN (fourth time’s a charm!), her advice for women who aren’t yet pregnant (hilarious), and the amazing support system she’s found via Mother & Child and Stork’s Nest Singapore. Read on for more insights from this down-to-earth mama!
What was your reaction when you first found out you were pregnant?
My husband and I had been unsuccessful in trying to conceive for more than a year already so when I did the at-home pregnancy test I was already expecting it to be negative. When this one in November came up positive, I was a bit surprised at first, and only convinced after four more tests! I was so excited but since my husband was on a business trip, I had to wait for three days before I could tell him! Of course he was the first person I told. It was a good moment to share; we were both so happy and excited.
Your funniest memory over the 9 months?
My dad had traveled to Singapore to visit us and we were planning to tell him at dinner one night with a special surprise announcement. However, prior to the night in question I was regularly nauseous and had to find creative ways to sneak to the bathroom without betraying the secret.
Any great books and resources that prepared you for when your baby arrived?
I really liked What to Expect When You’re Expecting since it contains the answers to quite a few of my questions and it was easy to research specific topics. In addition I found the Stork’s Nest Singapore Facebook group to be helpful since here I had access to relevant discussions as it relates to motherhood and Singapore.
What do you think every woman should know before getting pregnant?
- Should you not intend on getting pregnant (i.e. prom night…) – beware, it happens in a flash!
- Should you intend on getting pregnant – be patient, it never happens in a flash.
- Post-partum, motherhood is like having your heart walk around outside your body – it’s scary! And no matter how much you think you can love someone, the sheer enormity of this love will still surprise you.
What was the easiest trimester and which one proved most difficult?
My pregnancy was pretty easy, but I would say the first trimester was the hardest because I was exhausted all the time and all I wanted to do was sleep, but I still had to go to work every day. And then there was the morning sickness, which is by no means limited to the morning only. Puking at various landmarks across the globe, like Rotorua in New Zealand and in a minicab on the way to Bangkok in the late afternoon all serves as proof that morning sickness pays no heed to the time of day!
Did you follow a fitness programme while you were pregnant?
Not really, but I went for walks every day and in my last trimester I loved to swim, especially considering the Singapore heat.
Any fashion tips and tricks for maternity dressing?
I endeavored not to buy maternity fashions, preferring rather to wear flowy skirts and blouses that I could also wear when I wasn’t pregnant. There was one exception: I had to attend a black tie event while 6 months pregnant and ordered a lovely evening gown from Tiffany Rose.
Did you have any weird and wonderful cravings?
Ice! I could not resist crunching away on some ice – not good for my teeth though!
What did you struggle with most being pregnant?
Not much, I loved being pregnant! The only challenge really was finding a doctor I really liked. I had the list of birth preferences: pro-natural, skin-to-skin … and after testing the waters with three different doctors I finally found Dr. Paul Tseng – he was great. My advice would be to make sure you and your doctor are on the same page! Do your own research on doctors and seek recommendations from friends! Also, if it does not work, move on – there are enough doctors out there for you to find someone who relates to you.
Name a mama you find inspiring and why?
My own mama – I definitely see her in a new light now that I am a mama myself! It’s amazing to finally understand the love a mother has for her child and I’m so grateful for the wonderful mother she was to me. I hope I can be just as good a mum to Emmi as my mum was to me.
What are your thoughts about finding out the sex in advance?
I am too impatient to wait until the baby is born to find out the gender. I loved revealing this to our families especially since there aren’t many girls in the family. It proved useful to know the gender in advance, since I could decorate Emmi’s room accordingly once the nesting phase kicked in.
Did it take you some time getting pregnant or were you one of those mamas who got lucky on the first try?
It felt like Mission Seemingly Impossible for No Good Reason (grrr) for more than a year – and then suddenly All Systems Go!
What kind of birth did you have? (hospital, home, epidural, etc.). Who was your OBGYN, and where did you give birth? How was your birth experience?
My OBGYN was Dr. Paul Tseng and we delivered at Thomson Medical Centre with epidural. The experience was really special, despite being in labour for 20-plus hours; with the epidural the pain was tolerable and my husband was there to support me and the transition phase passed in a few minutes only. And then, the moment my beautiful baby was put on my chest was the most incredible moment of my life and one I will always treasure. I had immediate skin-to-skin with baby. She latched and breastfed right away. It was a great bonding experience for me and my husband. We could even video call our parents and they could see little Emmi soon after birth. They were all overseas and the technology is so amazing that we could share the moment with them despite being continents apart.
What helped you get your groove back after being pregnant?
I was unprepared for the realities of coping as a first-time mum with a newborn living in a foreign country with no immediate family for support. Breastfeeding became challenging in the days after birth, but I knew where to seek advice. Mother and Child’s midwives and lactation consultants helped me a great deal. Honestly I think ‘your groove’ just comes back naturally, but with time. The first six weeks were really hard but it became easier and easier until one day I said to myself… “I got this”.
Do you have any mama-friendly favourite places (restaurants, parks, etc.) to hang out with your baby? Why?
Not yet – my baby is still a bit young to really enjoy specific places.
I am fortunate in that a number of my friends have also delivered around the same time as me. Given that our circumstances are so similar (newborns, far from family etc…), we have formed a mummies’ support group, where every other week we meet at someone’s house and just have cake and tea and support each other.
Any local businesses (or websites) that made your pregnancy journey easier?
Stork’s Nest Singapore Facebook Group, Mother and Child and Paul Tseng & Thomson Medical Centre.
What are your hopes and dreams for your baby?
I want my baby to be happy and healthy. I want her to grow up safe and loved. I want her to know God and trust in Him. I want her to love and care for others.
Thanks so much Leandi! And thank you to the lovely Aditi of Aditi Chivate Photography for the beautiful photos!