AIMS: To quantify the preferences and preparations for support during labor and the first hours after childbirth of pregnant women and the specific preference for continuous support. To investigate the association with parity and the intended place of birth. DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey. METHODS: Twelve midwifery practices in the northern Netherlands recruited pregnant women. Measurements of the structured questionnaire were preparation for childbirth and preference for support (timing, including continuous support, provider, and type of support) RESULTS: Two hundred and five of the 247 eligible women participated. Nulliparae, significantly more often than multiparae, aimed to prepare themselves by attending prenatal classes (63% vs. 21%) and by creating a birth plan (59% vs. 40%). Women preferred to receive various types of support during childbirth from their partner (100%), midwife (95%), Maternity Care Assistant (29%), and nurse (15%). The women preferred the midwife to be present from the moment the midwife (48%) or the woman herself (22%) indicated a need for the midwife. Among the participants, 10% of the women preferred continuous support from 4 cm dilation. CONCLUSION: We consider the best approach to continuous support to be that it should be available on request rather than either not being available or being the standard care.