Mexico's Inés Ramírez Pérez had seven healthy children, but her eighth was stillborn. In 2000, at age 40, pregnant again, she labored unsuccessfully for 12 hours to bring her ninth child into the world. Panic-stricken — her town only had one phone, and her hubby was partying at the local cantina — she sent one of her kids to purchase a sharp knife. While he was gone, she threw back two cups of mezcal, an alcoholic drink, to numb the pain [source: The Unnecesarean].
Pérez used the knife to make a light incision across her abdomen, then traced the incision over and over, sinking in a little deeper each time. Eventually she pushed aside her internal organs, reached inside her uterus and pulled out a healthy baby boy. Then she wrapped a sweater around the wound and sent her son to find help.
Several hours later, a local health worker found Pérez and the baby, then stitched her wound shut with a needle and thread. Eventually she was treated at a hospital, where she remained for 10 days. Miraculously, she had no infections and no serious harm was done to her internal organs. Doctors think part of her success was due to the fact that she gave birth in a traditional sitting position, so her uterus was against her abdominal wall, rather than her intestines [source: The Unnecesarean].
Pérez was the first woman known to have survived a self-inflicted Caesarean. But a 2013 study later found 22 other cases of self-inflicted Caesareans. Mothers took this action either to kill the child, save the child or due to mental illness. Surprisingly, despite the peril associated with such an action, many of the women survived. In fact, the study authors think the number of cases of self-Caesareans is probably higher [source: Szabó and Brockington]. Still, this procedure is definitely best left to medical professionals.