Objective: to explore some of the social barriers disabled women face when they think about having a child, become pregnant, come into contact with the maternity and related services, and become mothers. Design: a qualitative study involving in-depth semi-structured interviews with 17 disabled women. This was a follow-up study associated with a large health authority commissioned survey on the ‘maternity preferences’ of women of childbearing age resident in one city. Setting: one city in the north of England. Fifteen of the women were interviewed in their own homes and two were interviewed in their workplaces. Participants: the women who were interviewed had a wide range of impairments, and were at different stages in their reproductive journeys. Findings: we report on three important themes which emerged through the analysis of the interview transcripts: issues of poor ‘access’ within the maternity services; inadequately met information needs; and the experience of receiving inadequate or inappropriate ‘help’ from health professionals and social care workers. Key conclusions: the study provides support for the claims made in Changing Childbirth (Department of Health 1993) that professional practice and other features of maternity services can place barriers in the paths of disabled women. Implications for practice: midwives should respect the right of disabled women to be self-determining, for example, by first asking disabled women what their needs are and how assistance, if desired, can best be given.