pregnancy

"I was in terrible pain." The story of the world's first successful DIY C-section.

This post contains graphic details that won’t be appropriate for all readers.

We also do not advise attempting your own C-section. Seriously. 

It was March 5, 2000. Inés Ramírez Pérez was seven months pregnant with her ninth child when the pain began in her abdomen. It was intense, crippling. Her mind immediately leapt back to the stillbirth she’d suffered two years earlier, and the panic set in.

The baby had died as the result of an obstructed labour, and with the nearest hospital more than 80km from her home in rural Oaxaca, Mexico, the 40-year-old wasn’t prepared to risk it happening again.

“I knew I had to do something or this baby would die, too,” Ines told The Telegraph. “I knew I had to get it out somehow.”

Ines’ husband wasn’t home – he was out drinking or deer hunting, depending on which account you read. So she sent her eight-year-old son to the local store for a new kitchen knife – her own was neither big nor sharp enough. When he returned, she downed three small glasses of rubbing alcohol for pain relief, and began to cut.

“I put the knife in here, then pulled it up,” she said, pointing to her lower abdomen. “Once wasn’t enough. I did it again. I was crying and screaming, in terrible pain.

“Then I cut open my womb and pulled the baby out by his feet. He cried straight away.”

The knife. Image: AP.
ADVERTISEMENT

This incredible birth is believed to be the first known example of a mother successfully performing her own c-section, in which both she and baby survive.

The case stunned the world when it was published in International Journal of Gynaecology and Obstetrics in 2004. Article authors described how Ines fainted after the self-inflicted procedure, but was tended to by a local nurse.

"The nurse provided some health care but no prenatal care to the inhabitants of that small village deprived of running water, electricity, and sanitation," they wrote. "She found the patient [disembowled] and proceeded to reposition bowel loops, suturing the skin with an ordinary sewing needle and cotton thread. The patient was then transferred to the nearest hospital, eight hours away by car."

There, at Huixtepec Hospital, surgeons operated on Ines, properly closing her wounds.

Dr Onorio Galvan, who worked at the hospital, told AP back in 2004 that it was "a miracle" that she hadn't damaged any vital organs. There was no sepsis, no internal bleeding.

The mum who gave birth in the back of her family ute.

"One thing that allowed this was her position at the moment of the incision," he said. "Later, when I asked her, she told me that she had seen how the goats were operated on and that this somehow guided her on how to cut herself."

Ten days after her operation, she was sent home, her miracle baby boy, Orlando, safely in her arms.

Ines' incision stretched 17cm across her abdomen, and when media spoke to her four years on she said she simply had no choice but to make it.

"I couldn't stand the pain anymore," she told AP. "And 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."

As for the knife, "I use it to cut fruit and vegetables now."

Tags: birth , c-section , cesarean , features
00:00 / ???