Self-inflicted caesarean section

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A self-performed caesarean section is a form of self-surgery where a woman attempts to perform a cesarean section on herself.

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.[1]

Notable cases[edit]

Inés Ramírez Pérez[edit]

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.

At midnight, on 5 March 2000 — after 12 hours of continual pain, Ramírez sat down on a bench[2] and drank three small glasses of hard liquor.[3] She then used a 15 centimetres (5.9 in)[2] kitchen knife to cut open her abdomen in a total of three attempts.[3] Ramírez cut through her skin in a 17 centimetres (6.7 in)[2] 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.[2] She then severed the umbilical cord with a pair of scissors and became unconscious.[2] She used clothes to bandage her wound after regaining consciousness, and sent one of her older sons to find help.[2]

Several hours later, the village health assistant and a second man found Ramírez conscious and alert, along with her live baby.[2] He sewed her incision with an available needle and thread.[2]

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."[2]

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.[3]

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.[2]

In popular culture[edit]

In the science fiction film Prometheus, by Ridley Scott, the character Elizabeth Shaw gives herself a caesarean section. The scene has been discussed,[4] drawing parallels with the xenomorph birth scene in the original Alien 1979 movie.[5]


  1. ^ 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.  edit
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "True grit: the mum who delivered her own baby". The Sydney Morning Herald. 1 June 2004. Retrieved 4 November 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c 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. 
  4. ^ Kevin P. Sullivan (Jun 11, 2012). "'Prometheus': Secrets Behind The Surgery Scene". MTV News. Retrieved 24 August 2013. 
  5. ^ Pierce, Scott (July 7, 2012). "Prometheus Crew Spills Its Guts About Movie’s Most Shocking Scene". Wired. Retrieved 24 August 2013. 

Further reading[edit]