[I have asked a variation of this question already on the Judaism Stack Exchange, but am offering a broader version of it here.]
According to US National Library of Medicine, the first recorded instance of a mother and child surviving a C-section is from 16th century Switzerland, but is a somewhat dubious tale. Maimonides, who for a time served as one of the court physicians to the Sultan Saladin in the 12th century, writes that the possibility of even the mother surviving such a procedure is exceedingly rare (Commentary on the Mishna, Bekhorot 8:2).
I would like to know under what sorts of circumstances surgeons even attempted this procedure in the ancient world. There are explicit references to C-sections in the Mishna (such as the passage on which Maimonides is commenting, above), so I know that it at least happened as early as the 3rd century, but what I don't know is why.
Did surgeons only perform this procedure because the woman was already dying and because they wanted to save the baby? Or were there enough situations in which women survived as to allow surgeons to risk operating on healthy mothers as well, in a case where the baby was not expected to survive normal delivery?