Voluntary welfare organisation I Love Children (ILC), which advocates pro-family causes, fully applauds the Government's decision to provide more help to couples who want to have children (Govt aid alone not enough to raise birth rate: Minister, and More govt measures to help the stork; both published on March 2).
ILC has organised various outreach activities in the past and, through its interactions with couples, knows that many do face difficulties in conceiving.
However, a large number prefer to wait and let nature take its own course, while those trying cite the high expenses in going for fertility treatments.
For the latter group, the support for assisted reproduction technology (ART) treatment for eligible couples to be raised from $6,300 to $7,700 for fresh cycles and $1,200 to $2,200 for frozen cycles is much welcomed.
However, providing increased monetary support is but one of the many factors to help couples conceive.
There are other areas to look at, such as more information and discussion regarding the fertility health of the couple at the earliest opportunity, sharing in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) experiences so that it is not a taboo subject, and emotional support for the couple going through the journey.
ILC has successfully organised two fertility wellness campaigns in the last two years to start conversations on conception and pregnancy.
We partnered private hospitals to provide fertility health checks to couples to understand their fertility health.
Armed with clinical information from the checks, couples can make informed decisions on whether to start family planning earlier or later in life.
For example, a couple who wanted to start their family only at 35 found out that the wife had a medical condition and was advised to plan for a baby earlier.
She took the advice and conceived naturally at 30.
Should she have waited, her chances of natural conception per month would be only 5 per cent at 35 years old. She might even have to go for ART to conceive.
She could not have been happier and the couple realised the benefits of earlier conception.
Going through an IVF journey is never easy as it is emotionally draining. I understand as I went through this myself 28 years ago.
Giving birth to IVF twins and later on naturally conceiving three more singletons have been the most amazing life experiences for me and my husband.
I share openly so that couples can be encouraged and step forward to share theirs too.
Together, we can "untaboo" this subject and have more couples support one another in their parenthood journey.
Joni Ong (Mrs)
President I Love Children