Argentine police officer breastfeeds malnourished baby in viral photo

The officer was working when she heard the baby wailing at Sister Maria Ludovica Children’s Hospital, and was told its mother was not able to fully provide care

By Noah Feit
The State

BUENOS AIRES — A baby was in need, and a police officer was there to help.

So when Celeste Ayala was granted permission, the new mother breastfed the malnourished baby boy she heard crying at a hospital, CNN Wire Service reported.

The Argentine police officer was working when she heard the baby wailing at Sister Maria Ludovica Children’s Hospital, and was told its mother was not able to fully provide care, according to CBS Local.

Ayala asked staff if she could help the infant, who hospital staff described as “smelly and dirty,” Yahoo reported.

“I noticed that he was hungry, as he was putting his hand into his mouth, so I asked to hug him and breastfeed him,” Ayala said, according to Yahoo.

The moment at the hospital in Buenos Aires was photographed by another police officer, who shared the image of Ayala breastfeeding on Facebook.

A translation of Marcos Heredia’s post praised Ayala.

“I want to make public this great gesture of love that you had today with that baby, who without knowing you did not doubt and for a moment you fulfilled how if you were his mother,” Heredia posted on Facebook. “You did not care about THE MUM AND THE SMELL as the professional gentlemen of the hospital manifested.”

Heredia’s post went viral. As of Monday night, it had been shared more than 111,000 times, garnered 154,000-plus reactions and had hundreds of comments.

There has been praise heaped on Ayala by people who have seen the Aug. 14 Facebook post. But officials in Argentina also took notice.

A day after Heredia’s post, the fire department where Ayala serves as a volunteer took to social media to champion her action.

“We would like to congratulate the volunteer firefighter cadet Celeste Ayala who yesterday was at her private job as a police officer and was guarding at the Children’s Hospital Sister Maria Ludovica breastfed a young child who came crying,” Bomberos Voluntarios Berisso posted on Facebook. “Actions like this cadet’s fill us with pride and force us to redouble our efforts, the work and solidarity with our community.”

In addition to the recognition, there was a reward for Ayala’s action.

The vice president of the legislature of Buenos Aires invited Ayala to a meeting, where he promoted her from officer to sergeant, CBS Local reported.

Cristian Ritondo posted a photo of the meeting with Ayala on Twitter.

“Today we received Celeste, the officer who breast-fed a baby at the LaPlata Children’s Hospital to notify her of her promotion,” Ritondo’s translated tweet read. “We wanted to thank her in person for that gesture of spontaneous love that managed to calm the baby’s cry. The police that make us proud, the police we want.”

In spite of all the accolades, Ayala is focused on the harsh reality that forced her into action.

“It was a sad moment, it broke my soul seeing him like this, society should be sensitive to the issues affecting children, it cannot keep happening,” Ayala said, according to Yahoo.

©2018 The State (Columbia, S.C.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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