If you’re in pretty good shape, but your belly is still protruding more than you would like, don’t despair. That’s really common, but it doesn’t need to be permanent. Often, a postural issue is the culprit–which, luckily, is repairable.
During pregnancy, most women’s back muscles get tight from overuse. Since the ab muscles can’t function adequately as spinal supporters, the muscles in the lower back fill in. The added weight on the front of the body during pregnancy further overworks the muscles of the lower back. After delivery, this imbalance may persist. Even if you do a lot of ab exercises, many commonly performed ab exercises target the rectus abdominus. This isn’t enough to rebalance the front and back of your core into equilibrium. So, even if you think of yourself as someone with a strong core, some of the key muscles for rebalancing the core might not be getting enough development.
In addition, the position of the ribs changes during pregnancy. These changes can be reversed as well, with some attention and targeted exercises. Rib position also contributes to core imbalances.
Strengthening the external and internal obliques, retraining the intercostal muscles (between the ribs) to return to full mobility, and working on specific breathing patterns can interrupt and reset the cycle of turned off abs–>overworking, tight lower back–>protruding belly.
Besides being happy that your belly no longer prompts nosy people to ask if you’re having another baby (why are there still people who ask this??), rebalancing your core muscles will give you a lot of relief from back pain and tightness. You’ll also have better athletic movement and sustained strength across the core, which is nice for improving your performance and for preventing injuries.