It is thought to be the first known case of a self-inflicted Caesarean in which both the mother and baby survived.
The unidentified 40-year-old, lived in a rural area of Mexico without electricity or running water, and eight hours from the nearest hospital.
The International Journal of Gynaecology and Obstetrics reported the case.
The woman performed the operation when she could not deliver the baby naturally, having lost a previous baby due to labour complications.
Dr R Valle, of the Dr Manuel Velasco Suarez Hospital in San Pablo, Mexico, said: “She took three small glasses of hard liquor and, using a kitchen knife, sliced her abdomen in three attempts and delivered a male infant that breathed immediately and cried.”
Before losing consciousness, the woman told one of her children to call a local nurse for help.
After the nurse stitched the wound with a sewing needle and cotton thread, the mother and baby were transferred and treated by Dr Valle and his colleagues at the nearest hospital.
“This case represents an unusual and extraordinary decision by a woman in labour who, unable to deliver herself spontaneously, and with no medical help or resources, decided to perform a caesarean section upon herself,” he said.
He added that a mother’s instinct to save her child can move a woman to perform extraordinary acts but said it would not have been necessary if adequate medical care had been available.
Professor James Walker, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at St James’s University Hospital, Leeds, said he had heard of cases in the past where farmers had performed Caesareans on their wives after having previously carried out the operation on animals.
But he said it would not happen now. “In this country, there is virtually never a situation when an individual is totally isolated from medical care even in the most outlying areas.”