Topic Overview

Expectant management is the close monitoring of a pregnancy for complications. It may involve some bedrest at home or in the hospital. Being on expectant management may mean you are advised to stop working, reduce your activity level, or possibly spend a lot of time resting (partial bedrest).

There is no evidence that long-term bedrest lowers the risk of preterm delivery.footnote 1 Studies have shown that strict bedrest for 3 days or more may raise your risk of getting a blood clot in the legs or lungs.footnote 2 Strict bedrest is no longer used to prevent preterm labour. But your doctor may recommend expectant management with some bedrest (partial bedrest).

If you are prescribed partial bedrest

If your doctor or midwife suggests expectant management for preventing preterm labour, discuss the benefits and risks in light of your condition.

When you are resting or sleeping during late pregnancy, try to lie on your side. This is thought to improve blood flow to the uterus and fetus(es).

Dehydration can trigger contractions, so be sure to drink plenty of fluids each day.

When you are lying down, remember to flex your feet, stretch, and move your legs as much as possible.



  1. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2012). Management of preterm labor. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 127. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 119(6): 1308–1317.
  2. Cunningham FG, et al., eds. (2010). Preterm birth. In Williams Obstetrics, 23rd ed., pp. 804–831. New York: McGraw-Hill.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Thomas M. Bailey, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer William Gilbert, MD - Maternal and Fetal Medicine

Current as ofMay 22, 2015