11/10/2013 07:36 BST | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

Irma Lopez, Indigenous Mexican Woman, Forced To Give Birth On Hospital Lawn After Medics Deny Help (PICTURE)

Crouching in the grass, her face etched with pain, this young mother was forced to give birth on a hospital lawn after she was denied help by medics.

The pictures of 28-year-old Irma Lopez kneeling over her baby, with his umbilical cord still connecting the two, were taken in the grounds of a health centre in Oaxaca, Mexico, earlier this month.

She was not attended to because the Rural Health Centre in the village of San Felipe de Diaz was "understaffed", La Razon, which featured the harrowing picture of Lopez on the cover of its newspaper, reported.

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Irma Lopez was forced to give birth on the law outside the Rural Health Centre in the village of San Felipe de Diaz

Lopez, an indigenous Mazateca, told the Associated Press she and her husband had been turned away by a nurse who insisted she was "still not ready" to deliver.

She says she was told to go outside for a walk, and that a doctor would check on her in the morning. An hour-and-a-half later, Lopez's waters broke and she gave birth on the lawn.

"I didn't want to deliver like this. It was so ugly and with so much pain," she told the agency, revealing that even her husband was not with her as he battled to persuade the nurse to admit his wife.

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Lopez and her new baby son Salvador inside the clinic

A witness photographed Lopez and the image quickly went viral on social media and was picked up by the Mexican press.

Adrian Cruz, the director of the health centre, told reporters the incident took place "due to lack of medical personnel, because the doctor on morning duty arrives at 8:00 am and the woman arrived at the clinic at 7:30," Banderas News reported.

It adds the incident has highlighted the "poor quality of health care in impoverished parts of the country and the discrimination indigenous groups face."

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The 28-year-old with her newborn and two other children

Dr Cruz has been suspended and an investigation has been launched into the matter. Statistics compiled in 2011 say one in five women in Oaxaca give birth in a location that is not a hospital or clinic.

Lopez and her son were taken into the clinic after the birth where they were both declared healthy.

"I am naming him Salvador," said Lopez, a name that means "Savior" in English. "He really saved himself."