While looking for alternative remedies, I found quite a strong consensus that Grandpa's Pine Tar soap does a superior job of diminishing the itch and clearing
Two-year-old Jeremiha Taylor doesn't have to ask his mother where babies come from -- he helped deliver his little brother at the foot of his family's living room couch. "He's my little hero," Jeremiha's mom, Bobbye Favazza, 27, of Olive Branch, said Tuesday. "It was like he knew what to do." Favazza gave birth to a 7-pound, 4-ounce baby boy, Kamron Taylor, on Friday morning. Firefighters arrived moments later to cut the umbilical cord.
Before 1930 most mothers breastfed their babies. Artificial formulas were expensive and still in development. Apparently some mothers thought it was more sophisticated to feed their babies from a bottle, so they would give their babies cow's milk in glass bottles. But this would've had to have been transported and refrigerated and couldn't have been convenient or affordable for average families.
According to this article (linked below), by the late 1930s, formulas had become safer and were viewed as more scientific by mothers who could afford them. And then it became a sign of affluence, or for immigrants - assimilation, and quickly became the norm.
I found some very interesting and relevant information about the history of breastfeeding in a preview of this book: http://books.google.com/books?id=hHbTDVfWNU4C&lpg=PP1&pg=PR17#v=onepage&q=&f=false
You can see this WPA poster in the Library of Congress here:
"Supermodel Heidi Klum, who is eight months pregnant, proudly displays her bump at the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards held at the Nokia.
The couple's baby girl is due next month."