"In this article, I draw on in-depth qualitative interviews with 23 women, conducted in 2019/2020, focusing on their involvement in decision-making during pregnancy and birth. The study is located in Ireland, where comparably progressive national policies regarding informed choice in labour and birth clash with the day-to-day reality of a heavily medicalised, paternalistic maternity care system. I represent the subjective experiences of a diverse group of women through in-depth interview excerpts. In my analysis, I move beyond describing what is happening in the Irish maternity system to discussing why this is happening – relating the findings of the research to the international literature on authoritative knowledge, technocratic hospital cultures and risk-based discourses around birth. In the last section of the article, I offer concrete, empirically grounded and innovative recommendations how to enhance women’s involvement in decision-making."