What is it like to be a working mother? As a mother of two, Dr Claudine Tan understands the physical and emotional demands of pregnancy, childbirth and post-delivery. With focused antenatal care and thoughtful childbirth planning, she has faith that every woman can enjoy all three trimesters of pregnancy, followed by painless and uncomplicated labour. In her free time, she relishes family outings and overseas travel.
Claudine Tan shares with The New Age Parents what was her biggest hurdler during her first pregnancy and how having her two little girls has changed her outlook towards life.
Hi Claudine! Tell us more about yourself, your family and your kids.
I am an obstetrics & gynaecology (O&G) specialist practising at SBCC Women’s Clinic in Ang Mo Kio Central. My interest and expertise is in women’s health. After graduating from medical school in National University Singapore, I underwent training at KK Women’s & Children’s Hospital and National University Hospital before being admitted to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in London. My husband is a general practitioner and I have 2 little girls who will be 4 and 2 years old at the end of this year.
What was the biggest hurdle you had to overcome during your (first) pregnancy?
The biggest hurdle I faced was hyperemesis (morning sickness) during the initial few months. I felt nauseous daily and was not able to tolerate much food. Having to deal with this and work at the same time was a challenge because I was constantly tired.
As a doctor, do you feel that you were better informed and equipped of what to do and what to expect during your pregnancy?
As a doctor, I do feel that I am better equipped with specialized medical knowledge to handle the different issues that pregnancy brings. It helps that I understand the physiology behind how our body works and the changes that pregnancy will bring. Furthermore as an O&G specialist, I am able to recognize and handle quickly any problems or complications that might arise during my antenatal period.
How has having a child changed your perspective in life?
Having two children has made me feel more responsible and selfless, I have learnt to take care of not just myself but another two persons who are totally dependent on me. Being a parent has helped me develop more patience and empathy both at home and at work. Lastly, planning and organization of my daily schedule has become a necessity.
How has your own parent’s upbringing influenced you in your own parenting style?
I grew up in a traditional Chinese family where three generations lived in the same household. My parents taught me the importance of working hard and the value of respect for my elders. I hope that I will be able to pass these virtues on to my children.
What are some every day routines you have with your child before leaving for work, and after you come home from work?
I will have a quick breakfast with my elder daughter before sending her to school. After which I will send my younger girl to my parents’ place. When I see my children after work, we will always review what my elder daughter has done in school that day and have playtime together as a family before I put the two of them to bed.
Best thing about being a working mother?
Being a working mother allows me exposure, in my case to different perspectives of motherhood and lives of my patients. I am very grateful for my family support whenever I learn of other women giving up their careers, sometimes unwillingly, to take care of their children. I also see this as an opportunity for me to try and be a role model for my daughters.
Worst things about being a working mother?
As a working mother, I do not have much time for my children on weekdays and even on weekends, if I happen to have urgent deliveries or surgeries to deal with. I have to fend off the inevitable sense of guilt when I am unable to take time off work to bring them out.
How do you juggle between your career and family?
It is about prioritizing and organizing my time. I am thankful that I have my parents to help look after my children when I am at work so I know they are in good hands. My husband will help out with the children if I have to rush to the hospital for urgent deliveries or surgeries. Family time is scarce but very dear to me. So whenever I spend time with my family, I make sure that my attention is fully focused on them.
Any parenting secrets or words of encouragement to share with our readers?
Parenting is one of the hardest jobs around but at the end of the day when your child looks up at you and smiles, it makes it all worthwhile.
This was published in The New Age Parent April /May 2012 issue
Update 29 August 2013: Claudine Tan is no longer with SBCC Women’s Clinic