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2017 CONFERENCE: New clinical tools for early life care

Brisbane: 2, 3 & 4 Feb 2017


Possums Education 2017 - New clinical tools for early life care - Mood, breastfeeds, sleep and crying.

Possums Education is an arm of the non-profit organisation and registered charity, Possums for Mothers and Babies Ltd. Possums Education offers a new cross disciplinary and integrated approach to the complex problems of feeds, sleep, unsettled infant behaviour, and parent mental health in early life, opening up the latest research and challenging accepted orthodoxy across a range of topics. Our evidence-base is peer reviewed and published in national and international medical journals, and is changing practice both here and overseas.


We invite you to join Associate Professor Pamela Douglas (Adjunct), Professor Helen Ball, Dr Christina Smillie, Dr Howard Chilton, and other experienced clinicians and researchers for this 3 day conference. You'll have opportunity to reflect upon your practice, build upon your existing skills, and update in the evidence. Be prepared for lively discussion and debate as we share our programs with you.

For more information about us, visit:

Possums Ed 2017 - Day 1
07:45 AM Registrations open – tea and coffee served
08:30 AM Welcome and Open
08:45 AM Cry-fuss problems: evidence update - Associate Professor Pamela Douglas (Adjunct) and Dr Howard Chilton
10:15 AM Morning Tea
10:45 AM The hormones of love-bombing; neurohormonal synchrony from an evolutionary perspective - Dr Sarah Buckley
11:30 AM Sleep ecology and infant development - Professor Helen Ball
12:30 PM Lunch
01:15 PM How mothers and babies think, and why this matters - Dr Christina Smillie
02:45 PM Tied to Tongue Tie - Dr Vishal Kapoor
03:15 PM Afternoon Tea
03:30 PM What works to improve a mother’s mood and baby behaviour? A review of high level evidence - Associate Professor Pamela Douglas (Adjunct) and Dr Koa Whittingham
04:00 PM Breast to Bowl: Developing Good Taste - Dr Howard Chilton
04:45 PM Close


Possums Ed 2017 - Day 2
08:30 AM Conference Open
08:45 AM Sleep and mood - Professor Helen Ball
09:44 AM Safe Sleep Update - Professor Jeanine Young
10:30 AM Morning Tea
11:00 AM A new paradigm in the management of parent-baby sleep problems: the Possums sleep intervention. Associate Professor Pamela Douglas (Adjunct), - Associate Professor Pamela Douglas (Adjunct) and Dr Koa Whittingham
12:15 PM Lunch
01:00 PM Allergy/reflux update - Associate Professor Pamela Douglas (Adjunct)
01:30 PM The intuitive fix: Don’t overthink breastfeeding solutions - Dr Christina Smillie
02:30 PM Restricted oral tissues in the breastfed baby - Associate Professor Pamela Douglas (Adjunct) and Dr Christina Smillie
03:00 PM Afternoon Tea
03:30 PM Gestalt Breastfeeding A new approach to fit and hold - Ass Professor Pamela Douglas - Renee Keogh and Dr Koa Whittingham
04:45 PM Close


Possums Ed 2017 - Day 3
08:15 AM Registrations open - Tea and coffee served
09:00 AM Applying ACT perinatally - overview The challenge of maternity
10:30 AM Morning tea
10:50 AM Values clarification, mindfulness, self-compassion in the perinatal period Simple strategies to support values clarification, mindfulness
12:20 PM Lunch
01:05 PM Making room for difficult thoughts and feelings in the perinatal period
02:35 PM Afternoon tea
03:05 PM Behavioural activation in the perinatal period
04:00 PM Close
SPEAKERS: Professor Helen Ball, Associate Professor Pamela Douglas (Adjunct), Renee Keogh, Anya Snyder, Dr Koa Whittingham, Professor Jeanine Young, Dr Christina Smillie, Dr Howard Chilton, Dr Vishal Kapoor, Dr Sarah Buckley
Professor Helen Ball
Professor Helen Ball
PhD. MA, BSc (Hons)

Helen Ball obtained her PhD in Biological Anthropology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1992. Her undergraduate degree was in Human Biology, and her interests span both biology and anthropology. Helen spent several years in the Caribbean where she conducted her PhD fieldwork. Following her appointment as a Lecturer in Anthropology at Durham in 1993 Helen began a programme of research on night-time infant care, established the Parent-Infant Sleep Lab in 2000, and was promoted to Professor of Anthropology in 2007. Broadly defined, her research examines sleep ecology, particularly of infants, young children and their parents. This encompasses attitudes and practices regarding infant sleep, behavioural and physiological monitoring of infants and their parents during sleep, infant sleep development, and the discordance between cultural sleep preferences and biological sleep needs. She has conducted research in hospitals and the community, and contributes to national and international policy and practice guidelines on infant care. See She pioneers the translation of academic research on infant sleep into evidence for use by parents and healthcare staff via ISIS -- the Infant Sleep Information Source website (


Associate Professor Pamela Douglas (Adjunct)
Associate Professor Pamela Douglas (Adjunct)

Pam has been a practicing as a GP since 1987, and is a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. She is Medical Director of the Possums Clinic, Brisbane; Associate Professor (Adjunct) at the Centre for Health Practice Innovation, Griffith University; and Senior Lecturer, Discipline of General Practice, The University of Queensland.

Pam has specialised clinical interests in early life, mental health, and women’s health. She is qualified as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (1994-2004; 2012 ongoing) and is an infant feeding and breastfeeding medicine specialist. She is trained in the delivery of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

Her research focuses on clinical support and optimisation of parent-baby neurohormonal synchrony regardless of feeding method, and integrates the latest medical science, neuroscience, lactation science, evolutionary medicine, attachment psychology, and contextual behavioural science. She is also author of a popular new book for parents, The discontented little baby book: all you need to know about feeds, sleep and crying, which health professionals find useful too because of its detailed exploration of real-life cases.


Renee Keogh
Renee Keogh
RN Grad Cert in Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing IBCLC

Renee is a Registered Nurse and Lactation Consultant with fifteen years experience working in Neonatal Intensive Care units in Sydney, Canberra and Darwin. She completed a Graduate certificate in neonatal intensive care nursing in 2004, and qualified as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant in 2010. Renee offers holistic care not just for breastfeeding problems, but also for problems of unsettled infant behavior, feeds and sleep throughout the first year of life. 


Anya Snyder

Anya is an endorsed Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner specializing in perinatal mental health. Formerly in private practice in the U.S., she focused on treating birth trauma, perinatal loss and postnatal mood and anxiety disorders. She is Possums certified, and especially compelled by Acceptance and Commitment Therapy’s capacity for healing and empowering new parents facing mental health challenges.


Dr Koa Whittingham
Dr Koa Whittingham
PhD BA BSc (Hons) MAPS

Koa is a clinical and developmental psychologist and an NHMRC research fellow at The University of Queensland. She has a substantial track record spanning three key research interests: parenting, neurodevelopmental disability and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). She is particularly passionate about the application of ACT to parenting.

Dr Whittingham is author of Becoming Mum, a self-help book for the psychological transition to motherhood grounded in ACT. She is a co- founder of Possums Education, and is responsible for the integration of ACT into the Possums approach.


Professor Jeanine Young
FACN PhD BSc (Hons) Nursing RM RN Neonatal Nurse

Professor Jeanine Young commenced in the School of Nursing and Midwifery in August 2013. Jeanine is a Registered Nurse, Registered Midwife and qualified neonatal nurse. She completed her PhD in infant care practices and their relationship with risk factors for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in 1999 through the University of Bristol’s Faculty of Medicine. Jeanine has established a research program to investigate Queensland’s relatively high infant mortality rate, with a particular focus on developing evidencebased strategies and educational resources to assist health professionals in delivering Safe Sleeping messages to parents with young infants and to address Close the Gap targets to reduce Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infant mortality. Jeanine has a special interest in infant care practices and in particular, breastfeeding and parent-infant bed-sharing issues. Jeanine authored the Queensland Health Safe Infant Sleeping guidelines, Safe Infant Sleep and Indigenous Safe Infant Sleep eLearning programs; and developed bedsharing information/position statements for SIDS and Kids, Australian College of Midwives, and Australian Breastfeeding Association. She chaired the SIDS and Kids National Scientific Advisory Committee 2008-2015 (current member) which works to ensure that safe sleeping public health recommendations are evidencebased and authored the consensus paper underpinning the 2012 Safe Sleep, My Baby public health campaign which reintroduced breastfeeding back into the Safe Sleep recommendations. Jeanine is also a member of the Australian College of Midwives Scientific Review and Advisory Committee which provides the ACM Board with advice on scientific matters, and prepares discussion papers and position statements to support midwifery practice.


Dr Christina Smillie
Dr Christina Smillie

Dr. Smillie is an American pediatrician who founded in 1996 the first private medical practice in the USA devoted to the specialty of breastfeeding medicine.

Board certified by both the American Board of Pediatrics in 1983 and by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners in 1995, she values her continuing education from colleagues, research, and breastfeeding babies and their mothers.

She’s been a member of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine since 1996, and an ABM Fellow since 2002. She serves as an advisor to the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Breastfeeding and on La Leche League International’s Health Advisory Council.

Dr. Smillie speaks nationally and internationally about the clinical management of a wide variety of breastfeeding issues, always stressing the role of the motherbaby as a single psychoneurobiological system, and emphasizing the innate instincts underlying both maternal and infant competence.


Dr Howard Chilton
Dr Howard Chilton

Dr Howard Chilton has been a babies' physician for over 35 years, following training in London, Oxford and the United States. For much of this time he was Director of Newborn Care at the Royal Hospital for Women in Sydney, while also gaining invaluable experience not only as a neonatologist but as a working father to his two daughters, Georgina and Isabella. Dr Chilton continues to work clinically at the Royal Hospital and Prince of Wales Private Hospital and is one of Australia's leading baby doctors. His previous book, Baby on Board, now in its third edition, is revered by parents for its rigorous evidence-based information couched in a reassuring, easy-to-read style.


Dr Vishal Kapoor
Dr Vishal Kapoor

Dr Vishal Kapoor is a general paediatrician with a keen interest in neonatology. He has over 17 years of paediatrics experience, and extensive neonatal experience in regional and tertiary care centres. He holds a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS), Doctor of Medicine in paediatrics (MD), Diplomate of National Board (DNB), and is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (FRACP). He completed his two-year neonatal fellowship at John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle, which is one of the largest public neonatal units in New South Wales.

He served as the Director of Paediatrics at Redland Hospital for five years, and as the Clinical Sub-Stream Lead for paediatrics in the Women’s and Children’s Stream for two years at Metro-South Health. He was also a member of the Queensland Statewide Maternity and Neonatal Network Steering Committee. At Redland Hospital he led the establishment of the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) for newborns in the special care nursery, helping to provide better neonatal services to the local community. He is currently Director of Paediatrics at Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital.


Dr Sarah Buckley
Dr Sarah Buckley
MB ChB, DipObst, General Practitioner

Trained as a GP and in GP obstetrics. She has been writing and lecturing to childbirth professionals and parents since 1997, and is the author of the internationally best-selling book Gentle Birth. Gentle Mothering,

Sarah has a special interest in the hormonal physiology of labour and birth and in 2015 she completed an extensive scientific report on this topic, Hormonal Physiology of Childbearing, published with Childbirth Connection (US) in 2015. She is currently a PhD candidate in this area at the University of Queensland, Brisbane Australia.

See and her Hormonal Physiology report at

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