Pregnant women must take extra precautions in the light of the Zika virus outbreak in Singapore. But expectant mothers should also know that their lives need not be drastically altered, said Pasir-Ris Punggol GRC MP Sun Xueling.
And the 37-year-old, herself seven months pregnant, is aiming to show that by stepping up efforts to raise awareness of Zika prevention after a Punggol Way resident was diagnosed with the virus on Wednesday.
Smelling of citronella, a natural oil used as an insect repellent, Ms Sun went door to door at Block 259A, Punggol Way, yesterday to hand out insect repellent and posters on how to prevent the spread of the mosquito-borne disease.
Her team visited four other blocks. She will visit more blocks, as well as coffee shops, tomorrow.
Punggol is a young estate, and 36 per cent of the residents in Ms Sun's ward are between 22 and 35 years old. She estimated that she meets an average of five expectant mothers a night.
"If they are concerned (about) living here, I want to be here to show concern for them," she said.
"It's important for them to see me walking around. I want them to know that life can go on as normal with Zika, so long as you take precautions."
Zika is associated with microcephaly, a birth defect in which babies of women infected during pregnancy are born with abnormally small heads.
Two pregnant women linked to the Sims Drive-Aljunied Crescent cluster have been found to have Zika.
Ms Sun said: "Motherhood is a stressful time, and for the affected mum-to-be to have to deal with the added uncertainty of microcephaly is very unfortunate."
Test needed only if you have key symptoms
Doctors are advising pregnant women that there is no need to get tested for Zika, unless they show key symptoms, such as a fever and rash.
On Wednesday, a pregnant woman took to Facebook to say that a doctor at Woodlands Polyclinic would not refer her for a free test even though she had "all (Zika) symptoms besides rashes". So she paid $300 for the blood and urine test for her peace of mind.
The Health Ministry and Clinical Advisory Group on Zika and Pregnancy advise that unless a pregnant woman has clear symptoms of Zika - fever and rash, and another symptom such as red eyes or joint pain - there is no need to get regular blood or urine tests.
Those in the private sector, such as obstetrics and gynaecology (O&G) clinic A Company for Women, have also released advisories along these lines.
Dr Christopher Ng of GynaeMD Women's and Rejuvenation Clinic said that he has been getting at least one call a day from his patients inquiring about the possibility of getting tested.
He generally asks them to come in to discuss the issue, adding: "I wouldn't be surprised if some people want to go ahead anyway, despite MOH's general advice against doing so."
The pregnant women she met on her rounds said they were worried about Zika in the neighbourhood, but not excessively so as they felt they had taken many precautions.
Human resource specialist Evelyn Tan, 31, who is eight months pregnant, was glad for the free insect repellent handed out by Ms Sun. "All the repellent and patches are out of stock everywhere, even though we went as far as Chinatown Point to look," she said. "We had to get friends to buy some from Malaysia."
Administrative executive Charlene Go, 29, went out to buy two ultrasonic pest repellers at $20 each after the outbreak. She is seven months pregnant with her third child.
Some expectant mothers said their friends and families were even more paranoid than they were.
Accountant Soo Ee, 32, who is due to give birth in two weeks, said: "My mum did ask me if I wanted to induce labour, but I don't think I will."
Housewife Dayana Danel, 31, who is seven months pregnant, has no Zika symptoms, but her husband wants her to be tested for it anyway, even if it costs him hundreds of dollars.
Said the 32-year-old civil servant, who gave his name only as Mirza: "To know how healthy my baby daughter is, that's priceless."