• good;
  • ideal;
  • childbirth;
  • labor;
  • delivery;
  • pregnant women;
  • expectations

The aim of this study was to describe pregnant Finnish women's perceptions of a good childbirth. Data were collected through semistructured interviews in maternity health care clinics and maternity hospitals. Data interpretation was based on content analysis. A purposive sample of 24 pregnant women aged 19 to 45, half of them expecting their first child, were interviewed. Five main issues were seen by informants as important in the course of childbirth: 1) unhurried atmosphere, 2) normality, 3) reasonable duration of labor, 4) security, and 5) control. Participants did not expect much from their birth companions, although some mentioned various tasks for them. The three main issues considered important for the role of staff were the professionals'1) personal characteristics, 2) attitudes toward the childbearing woman, and 3) way they acted. The question about the physical environment was found quite irrelevant by some women, and only a few had special wishes related to the birthing environment. None of the participants voiced opposition to obstetric interventions, but some were willing to avoid them if possible. Informed consent for interventions was seen as very important. These results suggest that health care providers are challenged to provide individualized care for every woman.