“There’s an Etiquette to Zoom That’s Not Really Present In-Person”: A Qualitative Study Showing How the Mute Button Shapes Virtual Postpartum Support for New Parents Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Virtual spaces that allow parents in the postpartum period to connect, support each other, and exchange information have been increasing in popularity. With the COVID-19 pandemic, many parents had to rely on virtual platforms as a primary means to connect with others and attend to their postpartum health. This study explored virtual postpartum support sessions through the web-based videoconferencing software, Zoom. Guided by feminist poststructuralism and sociomaterialism, we held seven virtual support sessions for parents caring for a baby 0–12 months in age, in Canada, and interviewed 19 participants about their experiences in the sessions. Our methodological approach allowed us to analyze discourses of (1) parenthood, (2) material realities of virtual environments, and (3) support and information on this virtual platform. The purpose of this research was to understand how technology influences postpartum support and learning through online videoconferencing for parents. Our findings document an overarching discourse of Zoom etiquette by which muting was a discursive practice that all participants used. The consistent use of the mute button while not talking structured conversation in virtual postpartum sessions and resulted in three themes: (1) minimizing disruptions; (2) taking turns; and (3) staying on task. The norm of using the mute button changed how parents received and gave support and information. Based on findings and broader literature, we discuss considerations for facilitation of virtual postpartum support sessions.


  • MacLeod, Anna
  • Aston, Megan
  • Price, Sheri
  • Stone, Kathryn
  • Ollivier, Rachel
  • Benoit, Britney
  • Sim, Meaghan
  • Marcellus, Lenora
  • Jack, Susan
  • Joy, Phillip
  • Gholampourch, Masoumeh
  • Iduye, Damilola

publication date

  • September 2023