Self-inflicted caesarean section
Cases of self-inflicted caesarean section have been reported since the 18th and 19th century. While mostly deadly to either the mother, the child or both, a few of them have been apparently successful.
Inés Ramírez Pérez
In March 2000, Inés Ramírez Pérez, a Mexican woman from the state of Oaxaca, gained media attention after performing a successful Caesarean section on herself. She had no medical training, but nevertheless performed a successful Caesarean section on herself; both she and her baby survived.
Ramírez was alone in her cabin in Rio Talea, Southern Mexico, when her labour started. The nearest midwife was more than 50 miles away over rough terrain and rough roads. Her husband, who had assisted her through her previous labours, was drinking at a cantina. Rio Talea has 500 people and only one phone, but it was not nearby. Ramírez had given birth to eight children, seven living, at the time of the pregnancy in question. The last pregnancy, three years prior, had ended in fetal death during labor. Rather than experience the loss of another child in the same way, Ramírez decided to operate on herself.
At midnight, on 5 March 2000 — after 12 hours of continual pain, Ramírez sat down on a bench and drank three small glasses of hard liquor. She then used a 15 centimetres (5.9 in) kitchen knife to cut open her abdomen in a total of three attempts. Ramírez cut through her skin in a 17 centimetres (6.7 in) vertical line several centimeters to the right of her navel, starting near the bottom of the ribs and ending near the pubic area. (For comparison: a typical C-section incision is 10 cm long, horizontal and well below the navel, the so-called "bikini-line incision".) After operating on herself for an hour, she reached inside her uterus and pulled out her baby boy. She then severed the umbilical cord with a pair of scissors and became unconscious. She used clothes to bandage her wound after regaining consciousness, and sent one of her older sons to find help.
Ramírez was eventually taken to the local clinic, two and a half miles away, and then to the nearest hospital, eight hours away by car. Sixteen hours thereafter she underwent surgical repair of the incision site. On the seventh post-operative day, she underwent a second surgery to repair complications resulting from damage to her intestines incurred during her C-section. She was released from the hospital on the tenth day post-surgery, and went on to make a complete recovery.
Describing her experience, Ramírez said, "I couldn’t stand the pain anymore. If my baby was going to die, then I decided I would have to die, too. But if he was going to grow up, I was going to see him grow up, and I was going to be with my child. I thought that God would save both our lives."
Ramírez is believed to be the only person known to have performed a successful caesarean section on herself. Her case was written up in the March 2004 issue of the International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics.
She is also believed to have been profoundly lucky in several ways: to have put herself in the position she chose, which put her uterus — rather than her intestines — against the abdominal wall under the incision site; to have not succumbed to infection from the large open wound in a non-sterile environment; to have not passed out from the pain part-way through, bled to death, or died from shock. She did say, afterward, that she didn't advise other women to follow her example.
In popular culture
In the Prometheus science-fiction film by Ridley Scott, the character Elizabeth Shaw gives herself a caesarean section. The scene has been discussed, drawing parallels with the xenomorph birth scene in the original Alien 1979 movie.
- Morrison, J.; MacKenzie, I. Z. (2003). "Cesarean section on demand". Seminars in Perinatology 27 (1): 20–33. doi:10.1053/sper.2003.50002. PMID 12641300.
- "True grit: the mum who delivered her own baby". The Sydney Morning Herald. 1 June 2004. Retrieved 4 November 2010.
- Molina-Sosa, A; Galvan-Espinosa, H; Gabriel-Guzman, J; Valle, RF (2004). "Self-inflicted cesarean section with maternal and fetal survival". International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics 84 (3): 287–290. doi:10.1016/j.ijgo.2003.08.018. PMID 15001385.
- Kevin P. Sullivan (Jun 11, 2012). "'Prometheus': Secrets Behind The Surgery Scene". MTV News. Retrieved 24 August 2013.
- Pierce, Scott (July 7, 2012). "Prometheus Crew Spills Its Guts About Movie’s Most Shocking Scene". Wired. Retrieved 24 August 2013.
- Ronald Buchanan and Keith Dannemiller 'I put the knife in and pulled it up. Once wasn't enough. I did it again. Then I cut open my womb' The Telegraph, 25 Apr 2004
- Lisa J. Adams Woman describes self-Caesarean The Seattle Times, 1 June 2004