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Why does heartburn persist after pregnancy?

You thought your pregnancy heartburn would stop after you gave birth, but your kid is now a toddler—and heartburn is still causing you pain. Here are some reasons why the condition may be persisting, and what you can do to fix it.


Nearly all moms know about pregnancy heartburn. But now that baby’s walking, talking—and maybe already in school!—you’re still battling the burn. What gives? As it turns out, some common habits of motherhood can lead to acid reflux or even make those symptoms worse. Read on to learn what’s behind that burning feeling in your chest, and what you can do to put out the flame. 

1. It takes a large coffee or tea (or two) to get through the day. Some experts think that the caffeine in that cup of joe relaxes the muscle at the top of the stomach, which allows acid to wash back up, causing heartburn. However, other research has been inconclusive. If you want to play it safe, try an all-natural perk-me-up instead of coffee: Hit the stairs. One study of people who regularly didn’t get enough sleep found that that subjects who climbed stairs for just a couple of minutes had the same energy boost as if they’d chugged a cup of coffee.    

2. Between school drop-off and soccer practice, your schedule feels like a race. Juggling a million things can put you on high alert. This can flood your body with stress hormones, which may raise your risk for acid reflux. Research shows that stress can trigger heartburn. Make time in your schedule to decompress, even if it’s just five minutes of deep breathing.

3. You lie on your right side when you sleep. Frequently lying or sleeping on your right side may be part of the problem. Experts aren’t sure exactly why, people who sleep on the left side tend to have shorter bouts of reflux than those who sleep on their right. One potential reason: The sphincter (the muscle keeping the acid in the stomach) relaxes more when you’re on your right side. Research shows that switching to your left side, or sitting up, may lessen symptoms.

4. You’re overweight. Carrying even a few extra pounds can worsen heartburn, even if you’re at a normal weight, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Being overweight or obese means that you’re up to three times more likely to have frequent symptoms. Shedding that extra weight may help provide relief.