Your Guide to Acupressure Bracelets & Other Methods of Nausea Relief for Pregnancy
About 80% of expecting moms experience morning sickness. If you find yourself in this category, you may be wondering what can help you get some much-needed relief. Acupressure bracelets (such as Blisslets, Sea Bands, Psi Bands, and similar products), are one of the most popular options for drug-free relief, but you may find yourself wondering if they really work.
This article will help you settle that question, but since there are a lot of myths surrounding pregnancy nausea and how to get rid of it, we’ll also take careful look at various proposed remedies and the evidence for them.
What is Morning Sickness, Really?
Morning sickness is more properly known as “nausea and vomiting of pregnancy,” especially because (as you may already have discovered) it does not happen only during the morning. As unfortunate as that may be, it is good to know that it is a normal condition that affects most women, especially during the first trimester of pregnancy, though some (including me!) may experience it all the way through the third trimester.
While the cause of morning sickness is not yet perfectly understood, the Cleveland Clinic explains that it “may be caused by low blood sugar or the rise in pregnancy hormones, such as human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) or estrogen.”
Extreme Morning Sickness
Most women experience mild to moderate symptoms that tend to decrease over time, but up to 3% suffer from the most extreme kind of morning sickness, known as hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). Women suffering from HG may experience vomiting more than 3 times a day, become dehydrated, and lose weight. While regular nausea and vomiting during pregnancy are not usually a cause for concern, you definitely want to reach out for help to your medical provider if you think you are suffering from HG.
What are the Most Popular Remedies for Morning Sickness Besides Nausea Relief Bands?
Besides nausea relief bands, which are the focus of this post, the most common remedies for morning sickness you’re likely to hear about are the following:
- Anti-emetic drugs
- Dietary changes and supplements
- Products containing ginger
We’ll go in-depth into these various options in other articles on the BlissBlog, but for the moment, here are the highlights:
Types: There are many over-the-counter and prescription anti-nausea medications, some of the most popular being antihistamines like dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) and meclizine (Bonine), as well as others like scopolamine (Transderm Scop) and ondansetron (Zofran).
Side Effects: These drugs have been shown in clinical studies to reduce nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, but they all have their side effects. These vary depending on the drug and are typically minor, but may include drowsiness, blurred vision, agitation, confusion, dry mouth, and in some cases even delusions of persecution and seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there. Understandably, many expecting mothers try to avoid them during pregnancy, preferring more natural ways to manage morning sickness.
Dietary Changes and Supplements
What you are able to keep down may be affected by what (and how) you eat. To reduce your morning sickness, the Cleveland Clinic recommends avoiding fatty or spicy foods and instead trying “bananas, rice, dry toast, plain baked potato, gelatin, broth, eggs, tofu, or applesauce.” Try starting your morning with a few crackers or toast to help settle your stomach, and eat 5 or 6 small meals instead of 3 large ones, incorporating protein to balance those carbs when possible. Finally, to avoid dehydration with vomiting it is also important to drink plenty of fluids, especially water (though you may find it is helpful to consume your solids and liquids separately). Consider adding drinks or foods with real ginger to your diet, and taking vitamin B6. Since different foods affect people differently, you may want to consider keeping a nausea diary to identify your own triggers and learn what eating patterns help you most.
Side Effects: So long as you keep a balanced diet, you should not experience any side effects. However, while this is a way of managing how much morning sickness you experience daily, it won’t help much with getting rid of it when it does show up.
Products Containing Ginger
Types: Because ginger is such a popular recommendation for relieving morning sickness, products containing it deserve their own category. Store-bought products include chews, drops, lollipops, gum, ginger tea, ginger ale, ginger supplements, and more. You can also get real ginger at the grocery store and make yourself something nausea-friendly (check out some recipes here).
A study in the journal Integrative Medicine Insights concludes that while greater study is needed “best available evidence demonstrates that ginger is an effective and inexpensive treatment for nausea and vomiting and is safe.”
Side Effects: Ginger is generally considered safe, but the Mayo Clinic mentions that while most research suggests ginger is safe for pregnancy, “there's some concern that ginger may affect fetal sex hormones.” Consult with a medical professional before consuming ginger in large quantities or in supplement form.
Types: Inhaling essential oils is a popular recommendation for morning sickness. The most popular oils for this purpose include lavender, chamomile, peppermint, lemon, and ginger. While many women find them helpful, their usefulness may be due in part to the placebo effect. For example, this study of 56 pregnant women in the Journal of Reproduction & Infertility found that nausea and vomiting decreased equally among the group of participants taking a placebo and the group using peppermint oil aromatherapy. However, another study found that, although aromatherapy performed comparably to a placebo on the first day of treatment, it outperformed the placebo as time went on.
Side effects: Some people believe that, because they are naturally derived products, essential oils have no side effects. However, essential oils have been known at times to cause rashes, allergic reactions, respiratory issues, and even chemical burns. Consult with a knowledgeable medical professional before using them, especially if you are expecting.
So, Back to Morning Sickness Bands: Do They Work?
Yes, they do. And it’s not just a placebo effect.
The evidence for the effectiveness of morning sickness bands is not only anecdotal, though certainly there is a lot of that too, since these bracelets have been favorites of expecting mothers, travelers, and boaters for a long time. Still, many first-time users are skeptical, as it seems surprising that pressing on a certain part of your body would decrease nausea and vomiting.
Thankfully, there are plenty of clinical studies available that have tested morning sickness bands for effectiveness, using a double-blind methodology to control for bias and the placebo effect. Let’s look at some of them:
- Starting with the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, this clinical study on women dealing with morning sickness found that "acupressure resulted in a significantly lower frequency of morning sickness compared with placebo treatment." The conclusion was unambiguous: "Acupressure on the Neiguan [P6] point relieves morning sickness."
- This study in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine, also conducted on expecting moms with morning sickness (NVP), found that use of acupressure bands on the P6 point below the wrist does “reduce NVP significantly at P6 as compared to acupressure at a placebo point and to no treatment.”
- A similar study by different researchers, also appearing in Obstetrics & Gynecology, once again reached the conclusion that P6 acupressure was “effective in reducing symptoms of nausea” when compared to a control group.
- Not to belabor the point, but P6 acupressure has been shown to be effective in clinical studies for many forms of nausea, including motion sickness (see study), visually-induced nausea (see study), post-operative nausea (see study), and chemotherapy nausea (see study).
I think the point is clear by now: morning sickness bands have been shown in many clinical studies to effectively reduce nausea.
How to Wear Morning Sickness Bands
Once you've got your morning sickness bands, it's important to wear them correctly. You need to place the pressure beads over your P6 acupressure point on each arm, located three finger-widths below your wrist crease, between the two tendons on the underside of your wrist. Wearing both and placing them in the right location can help maximize the nausea relief you're getting.
Having considered the evidence, you may be wondering what kind of relief you should expect, and what kind of side effects there may be.
As with other nausea medicines, including oral medication, it is to be expected that different users will experience different levels of relief. Remember that the clinical evidence shows what a treatment’s overall effect on a population will be, but not the effect on each particular individual.
Some expecting moms report that morning sickness bands completely relieve their nausea, others that they do a great job at taking the edge off, while still others prefer to use different methods. Usually, the best thing is to use a couple of the above methods together and see what works best for you, such as changes to your diet and acupressure.
If you’re on the fence, the good news is that if you want a risk-free way of trying morning sickness bands for yourself, Blisslets offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee with free and easy returns, no questions asked.
Side Effects: Since morning sickness bands simply place gentle pressure on the underside of your wrist, there are no real side effects to speak of. Make sure to get the right size bands so they don’t restrict your circulation, and take breaks from wearing them every few hours if you experience any soreness where the pressure bead touches the wrist.
Considering the evidence in their favor and the fact that they allow you to avoid the side effects of other options, it’s not surprising that morning sickness bands like Blisslets are one of the most popular choices for relieving nausea without drugs or side effects among expecting moms. Wondering how Blisslets stack up against other acupressure bands? Dive deep with us in our Complete Guide to Nausea Bands.